Words by Tanya Grimson
April 22nd, 2016
“Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish life was never ending,
And all good things, they say, never last”
Those were words I once used to recite much to my husband’s annoyance on a regular basis about the beauty of a song about a long lost friend that caused Prince true heartache. These are the words I never thought I would have to recite about Prince himself. Despite a year of truly devastating losses, first the shock of David Bowie, then followed swiftly by Alan Rickman and then Lemmy of Motorhead, it appears that the grim reaper of 2016 is not only cruel but relentless too.
Although I wasn’t a devout fan of David Bowie, mainly because i was only a baby during the 70s, his most iconic era, I could always truly value the strength of what he brought to the music and fashion industry and was genuinely shocked by the suddenness of his passing and the future absence of his music to our lives. It left more of a gap than I expected or thought it would, and it affected me deeply. It was too sudden, too unexpected, the world was completely unprepared. And, yet while the world was still grieving, we suffer another tragic blow and are left suddenly numb. How could two musical giants that have played such a huge part to modern popular music, that not only defined the music of my generation but defied it too with such lyrical and music genius die within four months of each other, without cause and without warning? Yes, when Amy Winehouse or Whitney Houston died, there was a sense of tragedy, of course, and shock, but they were troubled, lost souls that in some way their tragic fate was somehow almost always sealed. We all hoped they would not become another music legend that died too soon, but when it happened, we were already prepared. For Bowie and Prince their deaths were unwarranted and completely unexpected and the earth’s musical platelets shifted. Something moved, the world was uneasy and rightfully so.
Last night I got to experience what it must have been like for Elvis or true Bowie fans, the sheer and utter disbelief that this shocking news could be true. As I sat in a bar waiting to meet some colleagues from work, the Sky News alert flashed up on my screen. The musician that I most notably remember helping me through those difficult teenage years by providing me with songs that I could get lost in my room to was no more. From belting tunes like ‘Lets go Crazy’ or the stunning ‘When Doves Cry’ to the insanely haunting but powerful ‘The Cross’ on Sign ‘O’ the Times, his ability to transcend popular music with guitar solos and insane vocal scales became part of who I was and my love for music.
How Prince celebrated his band and their individual talents was also part of the sheer joy of watching Prince play live, his concerts were never a concert, they were an experience, a funk maestro with the best of funk musicians along for the glorious ride. These are the memories that people will have today. Anyone who had the joyous opportunity to see him play live will now cherish that experience that should have been repeated. It was too soon, he was not ready. We are not ready for that to end.
And although most people and radio stations will honour his legacy today by playing his most notable ‘hits’ and there are countless of them from over the decades, it is the unknown more silent songs on his back catalogue of 39 albums that I will remember him for. ‘The ladder‘ on the 1985 album Around the World in a Day is one of those songs that doesn’t belong to any era, starting quietly with almost a whisper in vocals building to a crescendo of perfect harmony between the roaring instruments and the vocal momentum. This is one of those moments like ‘Purple Rain’, that Prince shows off his complete understanding of all music and how to make them work together to create something truly magical.
In the album Kiss when everyone was fixated with the pop sensation of title song ‘Kiss’ there was a much quieter beauty lurking in the album that would resonate and stick with me forever, in fact so much so, that I would always think of the song if snow fell in spring. And for today and forever more, I wish that it sometimes did not have to ‘Snow in April‘, making the lyrics of this song even more tragic and personal.
Some people were Cureheads, Bowie heads, Duran Duran fans, but for me, there was only one, and it was Prince. I adored his music, he was the quiet in the middle of a teenage storm, his genius, musical and lyrical clarity was my escape, so today, I am still in disbelief. I was only thinking yesterday of how much I wanted to see him play live again and was wondering if he had plans to tour, but this can be no more. I sometimes listen to his earlier music as a reminder of a time and how powerfully evocative his music is to me and now in April 2016 I must memory bank how once again he has left a lasting impression on me; but I wish it were for different reasons.
I will forever miss you, but you will never be missed. RIP Prince
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