1987. I'd just turned 13 years old and received a cassette tape for my birthday. "Purple Rain" by Prince.
|This is a cassette tape! It played music in the dark ages.|
Now, we won't go into what would compel otherwise solid parents to give a 13 year old this music, but they did. And to put it mildly - it rocked my world.
I listened to that tape relentlessly. Every. Single. Day. I knew all the words to every song - even Darling Nikki - though I really had no idea what he was talking about. Still not sure I do at 42 - but that is another blog for another day.
But I loved it. Loved it. I was blown away by the sound - but mostly by the man. I'd never met anyone in real life ANYTHING like Prince. Granted - I should preface this by saying I grew up in a very rural, very white area of Upstate New York. So - my world view was a smidge limited - but that didn't dim the wonder in the least bit.
|Me in our backyard. Just in case you thought I was exaggerating the whole "small town" thing|
My 13 year old mind was blown.
Today, that man died. And while I haven't felt the same way about his music since "Purple Rain" - I will never forget those songs.
And more importantly - the way Prince made me feel.
He was wild and weird and just out there. And for a 13 year old with frizzy red hair, big round hooty owl glasses and an awkwardness all my own - he was just what I needed.
|Photo proof of extreme awkwardness. No further explanation needed.|
"It's okay to be who you are."
This message isn't revolutionary in today's "You do you" world where EVERYONE is some sort of spectacle. This was the height of the '80s where - to lean on the immortal words of Geddy Lee - "be cool or be cast out" was the anthem. So, to hear and see someone put it all out there - without fear - without worry - was so unbelievably inspiring.
It gave me hope that one day I could do the same. That my own weirdness maybe really wasn't that bad after all. That maybe, just maybe, there was a place for outcasts, cast offs, weirdos, freaks, dorks and all the rest to just be. Without judgement. Without fear.
So - thank you Prince. You didn't know me - but your contribution to the world made my small life feel so much bigger.
Rest in peace. You will be missed.