I make no promises about the future availability of any Prince clips I find and use. I suspect this video won’t be there in a week. And as much as I hate looking over my old posts and seeing the video I chose unavailable, I just want to share.
Prince loved women. That really wasn’t much of a secret. He apparently really liked sex, too, although his music became less risqué after he became a Jehovah’s Witness. He also disavowed a lot of his earlier, sexier songs, which was a damn shame, because they weren’t just songs about sex. Prince was probably the most sex-positive musician out there. It wasn’t hateful and misogynistic when Prince sang about a woman’s sexuality or body; it was reverential and joyful. He really, really loved women.
Which makes “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” one of the most heartfelt songs Prince ever made. He wrote it for his first wife, Mayte Garcia, but in a way, it was for every woman. And it doesn’t matter who you are–gay or straight, young or old, whatever–if you’re a woman and you hear this song, for just a few minutes, you feel like the most beautiful woman in the world.
It seems really weird to write this post. Not just because Prince has left this plane of existence at only 57. Not just because this is the most surreal year in the music business, and it’s only April. (It’s going to get worse. I just have this terrible feeling.) But because I am posting about the loss of this brilliant, brilliant man and I am not posting a clip of him.
Prince was a paranoid, controlling son of bitch. I don’t blame him for it; he knew that if he was going to make money off of his artistry, he was going to have to hold a tight rein on when and how it got disseminated. I’m pretty darn okay with that. But his control was such that he didn’t even post his own videos on YouTube, much less let someone else post them. His online musical presence is pretty much nil. He designed it that way. If you wanted Prince’s music, you had to pay him. Like I said, I’m okay with that. But it makes paying tribute to him that much harder.
Prince was a true original. He made music unlike anyone else. In his music, you could hear echoes of influences, genre-bending styles, and an absolute disregard for what anyone else but Prince thought about pretty much anything. He understood the world from a distinct perspective. You could get glimpses of it in songs like “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Sign O’ the Times.” You could hear it in the sexy playfulness of “Little Red Corvette” and “Raspberry Beret.” You could see it in his smile and sideways glances at the camera in his music videos, or in his strut and swagger onstage. But you never would get the full picture. Prince managed to be something very, very few celebrities and artists ever pull off convincingly. He was an enigma.
I’m still in shock. After losing Bowie and so many others this year, it’s just kind of numbing. When I go home in a few hours, I’m going to queue up some Prince on my iPod, and I’m probably going to cry then. Because even though I did not know him–almost nobody really did, I think–losing Prince today still hurts. He was my generation’s funky master of all trades, jack of none. He belongs to us even though he did his best to keep his distance. That’s why I chose this cover of one of his songs by Cyndi Lauper. Not just because it was one of the very few Prince-related songs I could actually find. But because it states what I’m feeling right now. “I don’t care, ’cause I love you baby, that’s no lie. I love you more than I did when you were mine.”
I saw Rachel Barton Pine on PBS Newshour recently, and I was really impressed. She’s a classical violinist who nearly died when her violin case got caught in a train door, dragging her for hundreds of feet. She now walks on a prosthetic limb. She believes in bringing music to the masses by playing in prisons and homeless shelters. Oh, and she just happens to be a metalhead.
Somewhere, Randy Rhoads is smiling right now.
We couldn’t really afford to lose Merle Haggard. There just aren’t that many like him left. Country music has become an assembly line production of empty, shallow, factory-produced pretty faces. There’s no style or originality. There’s no personality. There’s no danger. And there’s no emotion left. Merle Haggard had all of those things in spades. He lived his music. That’s what made him so damn special.
I think it’s kind of fitting that Haggard died today, his birthday. He left this world the same day he entered it. Maybe that means his work was finished. I don’t know. I do know I hope he stops by the great bar of the afterlife and has a drink with my dad. I think they’d enjoy talking shit with each other.
I’ve posted this song a couple of times before. I don’t care if I’m being repetitious. I just might post it a hundred times. I abso-freakin-lutely love this song. And besides, it’s Spring!