I never saw Purple Rain. I never owned a Prince album. In fact, I don’t know if I’d even recognize more than a couple songs of his. (Off the top of my head, Diamonds and Pearls, and…struggling here people to think of a second). Almost all of my knowledge about Prince comes from Charlie Murphy’s True Hollywood Stories (from the Chapel show) about a pickup basketball game with Prince (played by Chapel in the sketch). Shirts vs. Blouses!
So while many of my friends, especially those who hail from Prince’s home state of Minnesota, have been coming to terms with the loss of him, I’ve been sitting around wondering how the hell I missed him while he was still alive.
I was born in ’79, and according to Wikipedia he appeared on SNL as early as ’81 – so I can be forgiven for not having him on my radar screen when I was 2. But how to explain his absence in my musical repertoire from the mid 80’s through 2016? Even as a youngster I had an eclectic repertoire featuring Poison, Def Leppard, Michael Jackson, Kenny Loggins and Cher. By sixth grade I knew the lyrics to every New Kids on the Block song and ditto for Boyz II Men. Remember Woodstock ’94? Well I do because I watched every minute of it live on Pay-Per-View.
I feel like I recently learned of the death of a classmate from High School whom I never really knew much about – but it turns out everyone else knew him and adored him. He was the star quarterback, dated most of the ladies, played in a popular Ska band and gave our valedictorian speech at graduation. Don’t you remember him? I’m trying, but all I recall are bits and pieces.
Is it possible I lived in some sort of anti-Prince bubble throughout my youth – improbably becoming friends with the few other folks in the world who didn’t go through a Prince phase? Or maybe there was some early trauma that occurred with a Prince song playing in the background, and I’ve erased all those memories as a defense mechanism?
Am I alone here? Have you all seen Purple Rain? Can you all picture members of The Revolution in your mind’s eye?