Friday, 29 April 2016

what was that? aftershock

So the basic rule for survival in 2016 seems to be to have never done ANYTHING awesome EVER.

Last Thursday evening I was driving to a work thing after nipping home briefly. I turned on Front Row and realised with horror that people were talking about Prince in the past tense.

When I got to work, I was touched that everyone I spoke to expressed concern for how I was and surprise that I'd made it in!

As a 13yr old growing up in an ex-mining town in the Midlands, flamboyance was something to be avoided. The other boys in my year were all about drinking, smoking, sport, copping off with girls (or at the very least talking about it). Music didn't play a huge part in their lives but it already did for me, which even gave me an 'in' to talking to the quieter more studious girls (nothing ever happened, but still).

There was always something otherworldly about him, aside from his in-your-face “sexualness”. So when I first listened to him it was always in secret. The first album I got was Parade and I was mortified to see that he was showing a fair amount of flesh on the cover. He was incredibly private, obviously shy, androgynous, yet seemingly sexually voracious. It was a weird mix.

I've realised over the past week that, between them, Prince and Morrissey were, for me, kind of the twin guiding lights, showing me that there was a different way to act as a man - similar to the way that Bowie was for people in the 70s. It was ok to be different - intelligent, softly spoken, well-read, funny.

I'm not going to pretend that I bought everything he did. My window for album purchases is Around the World In A Day to The Black Album, but God knows whatever he did and the way he did it was always interesting.

The only time I saw him live was when he did around thirty nights at the O2 in 2007. When he popped up out of the middle of the stage and said, "Dearly beloved..." I'm not ashamed to say that I squealed.

It was pretty much a perfect Prince gig - a fair smattering of the hits and a substantial bit of aimless funk jamming. It's like if you went to see Bob Dylan and he didn't mangle his classics beyond recognition you'd feel shortchanged! But the epic version of Purple Rain (what else?) will live long in my memory.

In the week since his death, there have been a lot of heartfelt remembrances. But I was also incensed by this story on the BBC News site - Five strange stories about mysterious US musician. This was the DAY AFTER his death.

Like Bowie before him, Prince was an artist who liked to keep some things private but who knew how to add to his mystique by sharing tantalising titbits with the press. Were any of them true? I could genuinely give a shit. I like my celebrities to be mysterious, untouchable and little bit eccentric and OTHER.

[POP QUIZ: as an aside, can anyone think of a difference between Prince and Bowie which might mean that the way they're talked about in memoriam is in itself somewhat different? anyone? hmmm...]

The worlds of celebrity and music are getting duller by the second!


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