Prince: Thank you for making it OK to be Weird

I was late today to the news…the news that Prince had died. I was battling bugs all day on a website and only tuned into social media around 4:30 in the afternoon hoping for a joyful respite from the hell of battling iPad and surface tablet bugs on a website I had developed. I has only scrolled a few posts down before I saw a post about Prince’s death. I immediately commented, “Please tell me this is a joke.”  A quick Google search on “prince” quickly confirmed it was no joke. I’ll admit that I’m easy with my tears. I cry at sappy commercials and I cry at recordings of people being choked up about things. I cry with you when you tell me about something sad. I just do. I’m one of those people who tends to feel things by letting them flow through me. And I cried and went upstairs to my husband for consolation when I heard the news.

You see… Prince, he was something special to me. He was the first concert I ever went to – 5th grade, the “Purple Rain” tour. We saw him on March 28, 1985 and it was only 3 days before the end of his tour. He was claiming at the time he would never tour again so it was a BIG deal. It was in a glorious phase of my life in which my young mother (29 at the time) and I shared the same tastes in music. It meant we split the cost of albums of artists we loved such as Prince, Duran Duran, The Police. I still have the original Purple Rain on vinyl. It meant that when she bought tickets for an artist I also liked there was no way she was going to leave me at home. Our tickets were in the back of the stage at the Worcester Centrum (MA) which was awkward for most of the concert, but it meant we got to see Prince make his grand entrance in a bathtub the floated up behind the stage as in the “When Doves Cry” video which was on the Purple Rain album and, as I learned tonight, #52 on Rolling Stones 500 Songs of all time list from 2004. And since my mother had raised me to be pretty independent it meant she let me run around the whole stadium to whatever part of the arena I wanted so long as I knew how to get back to our seats (which I did since I was smart and holding this ticket). I’ve held onto and cherished this ticket ever since that show. My mother’s only restriction around Prince was that I wasn’t allowed to sing along to “Darling Nikki” in the car (which meant, of course, that I only listened that much closer to those lyrics).

The symol for the artist formerly known as PrincePrince wasn’t just some cool show I saw though. He was this weird androgynous kick-ass pop star before I even knew what androgynous meant. He made it OK to be weird. He made music that got you hot and bothered, but he was clearly different from the normal rock stars of the era that I had on my radar. This was only emphasized when he changed his name to a symbol to get out of his bothersome record contract. That symbol combined the male and feminine symbols and made me realize for the first time it was OK to not be one or the other. And yeah, I’m a white woman of privilege, but I always struggled with female friendships and had math and science tendencies that made me feel out of place no matter where I went. Part of his appeal was how different he was, yet accepted. Thank you for making it OK to be weird.

Prince’s passing also made me think of my mother. She was actually a few years older than him (born in 1955) but passed away back in 2006. How I wish I could talk with her today and share the sudden grief I feel at his passing. Sure Bowie was also a major pop icon who affected us all, but I never had the same connection to Bowie that I did to Prince. I did finally see Bowie in 2002 (Area 2 tour), but Prince was an artist who was a freak and blossomed just as I was blossoming and struggling with my own, well, everything. He made it OK to be different. He was a short guy from Minneapolis with a killer set of hips and an amazing musical talent. I just think you don’t know sometimes how much someone has affected you until they’re gone. While Bowie was someone who seemed to come of age before me, Prince was someone who came into his own as I was growing up. I’m sure when Madonna  dies, I will also be beside myself as I am now.

This night of finding out about Prince’s death also happened to correspond almost exactly the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. And while I can’t claim the same personal connection with Shakespeare as Prince, I am a huge Shakespeare fan. I have read much Shakespeare, seen many productions, stage-managed various shows, and even occasionally performed Shakespeare myself. I’m a pretty serious fan. Our local Beat Night in Portsmouth, NH where poets each month are invited to read with a band backing them dedicates each April now to Shakespeare. And being the 400th anniversary of his death, this was extra special.  The town of Portsmouth is actually declaring this coming Saturday April 23, 2016 as Shakespeare Day. But on the night I learned of Prince’s death, I was already on my way to the Shakespeare Beat Night. I knew I wanted to do some rendition of “Let’s Go Crazy” (there was no other choice in my mind and it’s eerily perfect if you listen to it). It’s always been my favorite Prince Song. So I decided to Shakespeare it up for Beat Night. Below is my impromptu version of Let’s Go Crazy which I painstakingly converted from Prince to Shakespeare in between other poet’s performances.


Oh my dear beloveds
We have cometh to this fine upstanding pub today
To moveth through this thing we have oft called life

Word most Electric: Life
It meaneth forever and it tis a mighty long time
But I am in this here place to share with you folk
There dost something else –
The world which cometh after

A world of most unending joy
You can always see the bold sun, in the fine day or the darkest night

And when you calleth upon that good doctor in Beverly Hills
You knoweth the one of which I speak, Dr. All things will Be Alright
Do not ask of him how much of your mortal coil is left
Ask of him how much of your mind, fair babe

For in this here life
Things are more harsh than in the world which cometh after
In this life
Thou art on your own

And if that staircase doth try to bring you down low
Goeth mad, hit a note more high

If thou dost not care for the world thou dost living in
Taketh a fair glance around thou self
At least you haveth fine friends

Thou shoudlstt knowst I sent post to my venerable lad
For a kind word
He gathered up my letter
Threw it most crudely down
Ahh, ahh – the words were then blurred on the page

Art we to let the staircase
Bringeth us down
Oh, no let us goeth!

Let us goeth MAD
Let us get quite insane
Let us seek the purple fruit
‘Til they put us in the cart, let us goeth!

We’re in a state most excited
Though we know not why
Perhaps it’s because
We all doth die

And when we doth go
What has it all been for
Thou dost better sieze life now
Before the grim reaper comest knocking on your door

Tell me, wilt thou let the staircase bringeth us down
Oh, no let us goeth!

Let us goeth MAD
Let us goeth insane
Seek the purple fruit
‘Til they put us in the cart, let us goeth!

C’mon fair babe
Let us goeth insane


Let us Goeth MAD

Wilt thou let the staircase bringeth us down
Oh, no let us goeth!

I sayeth, let us go MAD
Let us goeth, let us goeth
Go forth
Let us go forth

Dr. All things will Be Alright
Will maketh all things go south
Strange potions and thrills and daffodils will killeth us
Hangeth tough, my children

He dost cometh
He dost cometh

Taketh me away!


It’s no great masterpiece, but I could think of no better way to combine my love of the Prince of words with the Paisley Prince. RIP.

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