There's no disputing the fact that music, and the people who make it, has a profound affect on our lives. It can move us in many different ways and connect us, not only to other people, but to events, locations and memories long forgotten. As a parent, I'm doing my best to begin exposing our daughter to music I love and hopefully building connections to memories that she'll look back on whenever she hears certain songs. As I heard the news of Prince passing away, I began thinking about the impact his music had on my life. While my connection to his music is relatively shallow in regards to fandom, I cannot overlook the joy he gave me when I listened to his songs. And while I had heard his hits on the radio in my youth, it wasn't until I was thirteen years old that I got the sense of how big a deal he really was.
The year was 1989, and I was standing in line with a few of my friends to enter a theater and watch Tim Burton's 'Batman' film on opening day. I had on the very first Batman shirt I'd ever owned, and I was tingling with excitement and anticipation. We got in, found seats, the lights dimmed and the film began. As the opening credits ran, the names of the actors began to fill the screen. Then the film's title lit up and the crowd went nuts. Never in our wildest dreams did we think that this character would have his own film that was as dark and brooding as the comics, and yet, here it was about to play out before our very eyes. The credits continued to roll and then the words changed to: "Songs written and performed by Prince." The cheers were even louder for his name than the superhero the movie was about. Something was special about this man, and I had to figure out what it was.
I immediately bought the film's soundtrack with my hard earned allowance money and played the shit out of that thing. I Bat-danced my ass off, yearned to feel the effects of my own Lemon Crush and wanted nothing more than to be at whatever party the Partyman was attending. The sad thing is, I had the Purple Rain soundtrack (the movie that I couldn't see because it was rated R) AND Around the World in a Day, but I never gave them a proper listen because #ohmygodbatmanmoviesoundtrack. So I went back and listened to those other albums, and suddenly I began to understand what those cheers from the crowd were really about. There was more to the man with the half-Joker makeup on in the purple suit than I had known. He sang about love, faith, joy, pain and a myriad of other topics. He was a talented songwriter, musician and he shredded the hell out of the guitar (strap in @ 3:29).
It's never a good feeling to see icons fade, and it's been especially hard for me lately after turning 40. As if I needed a reminder of how much older I'm getting, people I grew up admiring in music (and other mediums, for that matter) are starting to pass away at an increasing rate. David Bowie, producer George Martin, Phife Dawg from A Tribe Called Quest and now Prince. I'll always cherish the gifts they've given to me and to the world, and I hope to pass this appreciation of music on to my daughter as well. It can be such an integral part of our experiences in life, and I feel lucky to have lived in a time when musicians like Prince were still walking the Earth and sharing their talents with us. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to find my cassette tape of the Batman soundtrack, read the liner notes and continue reminiscing.