When the news dropped, last week, that Prince’s plane had made an emergency stop and he’d been rushed to the hospital, I said this:
So I guess I have some work to do.
I bought two cassette tapes the first time I ever deliberately spent money on music. One of them I’m just a teeny bit ashamed of now; it was George Michael’s Faith.
The other one was Purple Rain. Now, if I’m being honest, Faith probably got more listens, and given my age when it came out, since this would have been just before hiphop colonized my young white suburban brain, Purple Rain didn’t get the attention it genuinely deserved. But it’s the truth: the first music I ever spent money on was Prince’s most famous album.
He didn’t really carve out his own space in my head until high school, when Diamonds and Pearls and came out. , in particular, is an album that I genuinely can’t imagine what high school would have been like without. There are only a couple of others that rise to that level– Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and, ridiculously, a Best of Monty Python collection that I only just recently got around to purchasing on MP3. So while most people think of the Revolution as Prince’s best backup band, for me personally the prime Prince years are the two New Power Generation albums.
I have prized memories of driving places with a car full of people, 7 blaring on the stereo, all of us singing our hearts out at the top of our lungs. The weird thing? I still can’t really tell you what the song’s actually about. That said, it was supposedly inspired by the book of Revelation, so who knows if Prince even really knew what the song is about.
My favorite Prince song is Gett Off, by the way.