I'm going to estimate that 60-70% of all people living in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area had miniature contingency plans concerning how they would behave if they ran into Prince somewhere in town.
Of the 60-70%, perhaps only 30% would admit to having thought about this, but...they thought about it.
Trust me, we thought about it.
People have asked me if I ever saw him and my answer is, "I'm not sure...?" I saw a car that someone claimed was his, once, and feel like I may have had a glimpse of him on the famous bicycle, but neither of those encounters took place in his neighborhood, so they could have been anybody, and I don't pay attention, so...no, I probably never saw him in the flesh.
I'm sure he was OK with that.
Someone on the internet said (paraphrasing here...) that living in the same town as Prince was like living with the very real possibility that you might run into Santa Claus at the coffee shop, or see a unicorn walking down the street.
Thanks, person on the internet...you have summed that up, nicely! I wish I could find you to give you credit, but you've been a bit like a unicorn, yourself since I read that on Thursday.
We live in a town where literally every person had a Prince story or knew someone who did. If you didn't at least have one friend with a Prince story, did you actually live in Minneapolis? Or did you just reject magic and wonder as a rule?
The "local" stories are sometimes funny, quaint, or intimate, but most wouldn't raise an eyebrow if the subject wasn't Prince...like mine: My friend catered a thing for him. He was super nice, and he complimented and thanked her, just like any other person would do.
Our stories usually have nothing on the Kevin Smith or Questlove tiptoes into the purple weirdness. Lets face it: Probably no part of, "I saw Prince at Walgreens," will ever be woven into a half hour of stand-up. This has never stopped us from telling, and re-telling.
Hey, when you see a fucking unicorn, you're going to tell anyone who will sit still long enough to listen.
I mean...that unicorn might just be picking up some Dr. Scholls, or whatever, but it is still a fucking *unicorn*.
Also worth mentioning: the ho-hum of the real life activity in question never stopped the listener from being truly fascinated and quizzing you on what the unicorn was wearing or if he said anything.
If you live here, the small stories are, well...better, than the epic tales of his legendary quirks, probably because not many of us have attended a Prince recording session, or after-party, or album listening weekend at his house...but we've all been to Walgreens.
Prince was like our own, personal, Stars Are Just Like Us page.
We are awash in Prince stories this week, a lot of them coming from famous people who do not live in Minneapolis, or haven't spent meaningful time here. To some of those famous people, Minneapolis is a weird, alien place where it is too cold for human beings to properly function and where only crazy people dare to try.
OK, you've got us, there...
Actually, no, you don't.
We acknowledge that it is difficult to break out of flyover country to become an international sensation, and we forgive a lot of talented people who move away from here for their shot at success. We know, we know...if you don't live in LA, nobody will see you...unless you're the most determined human being on the planet, of course--a man who bought himself a lifetime of loyalty here in Minnesota by defying the "you must move to LA" rule. It was just one of many rules Prince ignored, but for us, it was everything. We took it as a sign that our living here was OK, too--not a thing to be judged, but admired. Pride.
With many things he did, someone was able to say, "OK, I do that too--thought I was weird, but never mind..." I cannot overstate the importance of that, or the importance of his example of confidence to be yourself. There was NO ONE like him, and he didn't use that as a limitation, but a strength. That's very powerful stuff to a person wondering if they're OK.
There have been many occasions in the last several days where I have choked up over the death of this person I never met or even saw. I am entirely unapologetically about that. Part of the emotion is living here, knowing what an important role he played in the community, or thinking about the people he helped and worrying about who will fill his shoes in that philanthropic role. That's not where the big sobs came from, though.
The big cry, the "no, no, no, not him," definitely came from memories of the hours and hours of "church" I attended--services that took place while I was alone in my room, or in my car, playing songs that seemed to say, to me and to everyone, "I'm doing it, you can, too", "Forget about anybody trying to hold you back", and by the way, "DANCE!"
I was 100% on board with those sermons, and I will be til I die.
It has been weird seeing tributes to Prince in every nook and cranny of the media, weird hearing my friend re-tell the catering story, weird seeing pictures people snapped of him in the Walgreens parking lot, weird seeing buildings lit up purple, and weird seeing every 3rd recording artist release a tape of themselves singing Purple Rain.
I marveled at so much of what he did musically, and sometimes it felt like the only people digging it (or even paying attention) were Prince and me. Obviously, that wasn't the case. He was never just mine, but he spoke to me so often, in his music, it felt like a personal thing. It *was* mine.
- Side Note: I'm far from a music snob, but I do get annoyed at lazy listening...give it some effort. What I heartily recommend, now that we are in prime "Everybody is sharing a Prince song," time, is to not click on something with which you are already familiar. Challenge yourself, just for the hell of it. Find a Prince song, or, hell, a song by anyone you like, that you've never heard before. 30+ albums out there, besides Purple Rain. Just saying...
I've read a lot of Prince posts this week, and I'm just one of many who feel compelled to say something. For the first few days, I wasn't sure what that something would be. I remember being stuck on the idea that even though Prince slept behind a locked gate many nights, he didn't live behind one during the day. He was busy being a huge celebrity rock star, of course, but, more endearing to us here in his home town, he was also out being a Minnesotan; doing the seemingly mundane things we do--go to the airport, drive around the lakes on a nice day, roll our eyes at the weather on a not-so-nice day, ride a bike, buy groceries.
And...he was busy making and sharing music, always.
And...he was busy making and sharing music, always.
The huge celebrity rock star belongs to the millions. The Minnesotan belongs to the other Minnesotans.
The songs...? If only to yourself, call them yours. I do. I am of the mind that one can never say the words, "I love this song!" too many times in a day. It is what music is for: to love. It's OK to own it. Love, whether you think of it as a sneaky chemical trick on the brain, or a gift from God, is the only thing worth getting excited about in a world without unicorns.