Friday, April 22, 2016

Purple Tears In Rain

Thursday's news about Prince really took my breath away. I mean, just a few weeks ago the singers of the band America were talking about "Ventura Highway" and "Purple Rain" connections at their cheery Atlanta concert, then Prince sang a week ago, and now this sad turn.

First Avenue 4/21/2016 by Joanne Moze
For Minneapolis, the city that inspired my college years at Mankato, Minn., I can only imagine the public sadness and rich celebrations underway -- friends from the Twin Cities went downtown to First Avenue (site of the epic "Purple Rain" audio and film recordings) with thousands of other fans.

Kind of wish I was there to see the buildings and bridges aglow with violet light in tribute.

One fan at Paisley Park photographed a rainbow over the Artist's suburban home and studio where he was found unresponsive.

Philip Hussong via Twin Cities Live
I flew over that landmark on April 19, 1995, en route to KARE 11 for a live interview with my dad, an Oklahoma City bombing witness -- the award-winning pilot Max Messmer took us over Prince's residence, perhaps to cheer me up from the day's somber news, and Prince's lawn was covered with emerald grass, yellow daffodils and violets by the thousands arranged on tiered landscaping. The royal treatment, if you will.

The Minneapolis mayor shared a moving tribute to the city's hometown hero, and outlets from the Star-Tribune to The New York Times and NPR are sharing initial reactions, tributes and stories.

One reporter decided my experience at The Artist's penultimate concert -- in Atlanta's Fox Theatre one week ago -- was suitable as "all the news that's fit to print."

Paisley Park image via
During these initial hours processing the news, the following key Prince moments from my life came to mind in step with millions of other fans' own memories:

-- Earliest Prince moments: Paying close attention to the lyrics to "1999" during a 1982 Lake Tenkiller camping trip, and starting my personal countdown to late '90s New Year's Eves; associating "Little Red Corvette" with the b-movie "Corvette Summer;" learning "Let's Go Crazy" lyrics from Olympics [now Odyssey] of the Mind teammate Jennifer Crooch and watching, mesmerized, the "When Doves Cry" video on MTV at childhood friend Nate Newby's living room; enjoying "The Glamorous Life" and "The Belle of St. Mark" performed by Sheila E. and written by Prince, also at age 10 (autumn 1984); and purchasing a "Pop Life" single 45 record

-- H.S. and college year connections: Julia Roberts singing "Kiss" in a bathtub; learning "Batman" lyrics; visiting the downtown Minneapolis dance club First Avenue/Seventh Street Entry with friends and learning the venue's Prince connection; studying his recordings during work shifts at KMSU-FM and learning his likely self-actualization peak whilst recording the song "Purple Rain" for the film; gaining a more complete appreciation of his catalog

-- Atlanta Olympics to early 2000s: Found it fascinating Prince hired Olympic gold medalist Dominique Dawes for a music video to his cover of "Betcha By Golly, Wow" (The Artist's main Olympic connection I recall so far); discovering "When You Were Mine" (sung by Cyndi Lauper) and "Stand Back" (sung by Stevie Nicks, who credits "Little Red Corvette" for its inspiration on her wedding day) as favorites Prince penned.

In 2004, during his "Musicology" tour, I finally experienced Prince live at Philips Arena, then a client venue, with several coworkers also in attendance. What a treat it was -- that guitar and his in-the-round staging were just spectacular. His voice simply soared.

He returned to a much smaller venue in Atlanta -- The Tabernacle -- a few years later in support of one of his proteges, a starlet who was not great (terrible, actually -- so forgettable her name does not appear anywhere online). Though he played some great guitar, and we saw him up close (arm's length), sadly he did not perform any of his own tunes. Not long after that night, Sinead O'Connor performed all her hits including "Nothing Compares 2 U" on the same church stage.

But my most vivid memory of Prince will likely remain what turned out to be his penultimate concert just one week ago.

On March 31 I stood in line for tickets at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta.

On April 7, I moped when Prince called in sick, delaying the event by a week.

4/14/2016 photo via
And on April 14 I cheered when Prince performed "Piano and a Microphone" for two concerts.

Friends who heard me describe the 7 p.m. show last week will tell you I concurred with many of the remarks made by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution's music reporter in her review. One friend in Shreveport, La., will point out that I took Prince to task for an abbreviated performance (I did).

Some of my other feedback from the experience is now, as mentioned earlier in this post, part of the record in The New York Times. One thing left out of The Times' interview/conversation: Twice during Prince's show last week, I cried -- the melodies and his voice were so beautiful. I think Prince cried as well upon completing a cover of Joni Mitchell's "A Case of You" -- upon finishing the song, he stepped away from the piano, took nearly a minute to compose himself during audience applause, and returned to the mic to say, "Sometimes I forget how emotional these songs can be; keep it together, Prince."

Most folks have a favorite Prince song. I have several, for different occasions and milestones of his 40 years in the public eye. Listening to all the tributes tonight, "The Beautiful Ones" and the second half of "Purple Rain" stood out in my personal top five. I also dig one of his newest songs, "Revelation" on the "HitnRun - Phase Two" CD handed out at the concert last week. His Fox Theatre cover of "A Case of You," as mentioned above, is pretty sweet and hits some very high falsetto notes.

I captured about 30 minutes of the 7 p.m. concert on April 14, and this recording will remain pasted below for as long as possible before the copyright police come calling. The Mitchell tune is toward the end -- also included are "Chopsticks" with "Pop Life" and "I Could Never Take The Place of Your Man" as noted on the midsection of the set list.

I am extremely curious whether Prince's announced memoir is still possible (was enough of it in the can to keep a book on schedule). One previous biography was very informative though unofficial.

Thank you, Prince Rogers Nelson, for all of your many gifts shared with the world.

Photo of First Avenue by Nicholas Wolaver; "When Doves Cry" image via LivinLaVidaCoco; Editorial cartoon by Atlanta Journal-Constitution's Mike Luckovich

The following was recorded on Nicholas Wolaver's Samsung Galaxy via Voice Recorder app on April 14, 2016, at The Fox Theatre in Atlanta:

I provided the following transcription from the show/recording to The New York Times, paraphrased here:


“Thank you, Atlanta. Once again I’d like to apologize for the cancellation I was a little under the weather. But we’re here now. I want to take this time to thank you, each and every one of you for coming out and enjoying this night with us. I want to tell you a little bit about myself. I was born in Minneapolis. My father taught me how to play the piano … (starts playing “Chopsticks”) …he didn’t teach me that. I taught myself … (continues “Chopsticks” more soulfully and playfully improvising, then upswing of supporting tracks) … One of the things my father taught me was that funk (pause) is space … (starts improvising a more funky piano beat). My father couldn’t sing but he, he, he used to do this thing with his month, he says (starts scatting lightly). I used to watch him do that and (more scatting) … That’s funky, right? (transitions to more serious tune). When I got a little older, and started doing things my way, he liked to frequent this club down on 36th pimps and things used to hand outside and cuss for kicks … ” (starts singing "Joy In Repitition").


CynthiaAvaDevta said...

Beautiful. I'm still so sad and in a state of quiet mourning deep in a little corner of my soul for all that was and is and could have been. Thank you so much for sharing this little piece of heaven.

Sylberg said...

My heart is heavy, my heart is aching , my heart aches. I am heart broken, words cannot explain how I feel.................... We love you Prince, we loved you and we will always love you till we meet. You are the best.

Kasandra said...

This is a great place organize an event; the San Francisco event venues have great staff and great events put on here! I had nothing but great times and great conversations there. They served slider and shrimp cakes as appetizers with chicken skewers, and eggrolls that had veggies on the inside and some kind of creamy fruit sauce on top.

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