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In My Opinion: Prince’s impact on the world is incomparable

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They say the first time ain’t the greatest, but I will never forget the first time my brother exposed me to Prince. My brother has been a die-hard Prince fan since he was 13. In 2004, when I was 12 and he was 15, he bought “Purple Rain” on tape for a five-hour drive we had ahead of us for winter break. Hearing “Darling Nikki” for the first time is engraved in my memory. I had never heard sounds, instrumentally or vocally, like the ones I was hearing before. I did not know what that song was, but I knew I had to hear it again. 

The first day of school since returning home from that trip, I gathered some of my friends around the boombox in my classroom as I played the album. I could not stop talking about “Purple Rain.”

My Prince fandom did not come to fruition until the summer between 8th grade and freshman year of high school. My parents, my brother, and I went to London to see Prince two nights in a row. My life was changed. I felt a sort of spiritual ascension as Prince seemed to be God incarnate on that stage. When he would pause in the middle of his songs the crowd went nuts. When he stopped singing the crowd would sing for him. It was beyond amazing. But there was something stirring about when Prince was on that Love Symbol shaped stage alone with nothing but a microphone, a keyboard, and a red spotlight. I did not know what that feeling inside me was until our plane ride home. 

I was daydreaming about those two concerts non-stop. I could not stop thinking about Prince’s intimate moments with his piano and the audience. The more I thought about it I realized to myself, you can play any Prince song on piano, really. That’s when I leaned over to my parents, thirty-five thousand feet in the air, and asked, “Can I start taking piano lessons?” It was in that moment that Prince had officially changed my life.

A month later I was taking piano lessons with Terrence Conley, former member of the Count Basie Orchestra and meanest Jazz pianist I had ever worked with. Terrence knew that Prince was my inspiration for taking up lessons, and by this point I was only weeks into my first year in high school and had uploaded my brother’s entire Prince library, which boasted upward of 800 songs by that time, onto my iTunes. My entire iPod was occupied by Prince and he was the only artist I listened to on my way to school and back. Terrence knew how to make me feel bad if I did not practice enough in time for my Saturday afternoon lesson. “Prince knows his scales,” he would tell me. 

At the end of every lesson Terrence would have some free time, which I always used to show him Prince songs and ask him to play them by ear. At the end of one of our first lessons, I prefaced a song I was about to show Terrence by saying, “I want to be able to play the solo in this song.” I played the title track from Prince’s album “One Nite Alone…,” a song in which the only features are Prince’s vocals and his fingers on keys. At the end of the song Terrence exclaimed, “You want to play that?” “Yeah,” I replied with a stern ignorance. “You can’t play that.” I had an awkward smile on my face, not exactly sure how to respond and if he was even serious. Terrence continued, “Prince is making a statement. Listen to it again. You can’t play that.” Terrence left. I played the song again. That was Prince’s moment. It would be as though I was trying to simply replicate his emotions as opposed to showing how deeply I related to them. That expression has echoed in my mind since. That moment proved the transcendent influence that Prince was directly having on me through his music. 

I had become a notorious Prince fan at my high school by the end of freshman year. Someone after school even came up to me once and challenged me to the question, “Who is the greatest guitarist of all-time?” Without hesitation, I replied, “Prince.” “No! Jimi Hendrix!” I knew his soul was beyond saving, so I walked away. Prince is the greatest musical artist of all-time, and since September of 2007 to this day there is absolutely no one who can tell me otherwise.

Rest In Purple to the enigma that changed my life forever. I will never forget the day it snowed in April.

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1 Comment

One Response to “In My Opinion: Prince’s impact on the world is incomparable”

  1. HUGGY on May 7th, 2016 9:36 pm

    THIS TOUCHED MY HEART, HE FELT AS I DID BACK IN 1978 WHEN I HEARD SOFT & WET FOR THE FIRST TIME. I WAS HOOKED & HAVE NEVER WAVERED FROM MY LOVE FOR THIS MAN’S MUSIC, ARTISTRY, HEART, LOYALTY, & THE THINGS HE CAN DO TO A PERSON WITH A GUITAR OR PIANO SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!!!!
    HE LIVED 2 C THE DAWN N PEACE!!!
    & I’M “STILL WAITING”.
    HUGGY

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In My Opinion: Prince’s impact on the world is incomparable