Prince was small like me. Introverted like me. And he could dance like no other. He was wholly himself. A shy kid who created a persona and became Prince, the rock star, the odd bird who felt like a woman in a man’s body. There was always a cool mysteriousness about him. I grew up in Minneapolis, and he was our hometown hero — someone who made us feel that we too could be cool, even in the midwest. He made our mundane city feel monumental. Our parents didn’t understand him. We did though: we kids loved him on a visceral level, loved his strangeness and energy. He inspired us to bust a weird move, to experiment with our feet, to dress up, to be theatrical. He stood for artists, and he stood up for himself. He was the human embodiment of true vibrant color. Hearing about his death after coming home from a walk around Brooklyn Bridge Park: How impossible! How could this be? He’s too important! I had just gotten a Sign ‘o’ the Times 45 single from 1987 at Rebel, Rebel in the West Village, and for the last few weeks had been listening to it, and thinking about what matters in life, in our world that’s awash in media and distractions. How can artists make money when the expectation is to give everything away for free? I had recently been home to Minneapolis in February, and I thought about him almost constantly. On the Delta flight, when I was flying over the snow and frozen lakes feeling lost, I thought about him playing a concert in the middle of Lake Minnetonka, on that sheet of ice. I don’t know why.
His current incarnation — everything that he wore, every detail on stage — was marked with signs of the great unknown. He was showing us the cosmic symbols of the spirit world, burning bright. Song and dance are sometimes the only things that connect us, get us all moving together with one heart.