For a musician, music isn’t something you do so much as it is something that you are. Same applies to all artists, really.
Prince was the ultimate artist.
His undying pursuit of musical perfection represents everything that is good and practically holy about this thing that we call music but that, in truth, we know there is really no word for. Because the best in music defies description, and it spits on categorization. There is good music, and then there is bad music. That is the only simple thing about music.
Hundreds of reviewers across the country and around the world will rightfully revisit Prince’s remarkable career and life, shining a light on all of his chart-busting, genre-defying hits. That is as it should be.
But equally as important as all of that is to understand what made Prince the source of inspiration and joy that he was for so many of us, and that was his selflessness when it came to his relationship to the music. The best musicians and artists always open themselves up to the spirit and let the art shine through. The fewer human hands that touch the art prior to its manifestation, the more pure and perfect the result. Just stand back and let it happen.
Or as the church folks say, “Let go and let God.”
Naturally some may cringe when using this phrase in the same breath as one who practically personified flesh and sex during his shows, especially during his early years. With all due respect, I can only shrug. Because to me, that sound, similar to other otherworldly types such as Jimi Hendrix, is a sound that comes from a place deeper than knowledge. It takes hours and years of practice to master one’s craft to the point of reaching that level, which is the knowledge. But there does come a time when the fruits of that knowledge burst open, and that is when the perfect sound comes through. That is when the art is born.
But speaking of the lewd and the sex so thick you could choke on it, a Prince song about sex made you feel what raw, uninhibited sex actually felt like. The kind of sweaty acrobatics that most folk don’t talk about too openly, but which a whole lotta folk wish they could experience just one time and then die happy. Not “My Girl” type sex. And certainly not “Me and Mrs. Jones.”
Try “Darling Nikki” on for size. Then drop “Sexy MF.” And be sure to watch the video. Then go ahead and “Do Me Baby,” ’cause if that don’t make you “Get Off,” then nothing will.
Prince went there, unafraid. The rest of us hung back, waiting to see if he’d survive the trip.
But Prince? He just keeps on going…