prince did it all...
There is a meme floating around the Internet reminding us that when we grieve a public artist we have never met it is because they helped us know ourselves more intimately. We project on to these visionaries parts of ourselves we want to nourish and celebrate. In fact, one of the blessings and curses our public artists carry with them is our baggage - good and bad - healthy and twisted. They evoke truths within us that we hadn't yet named. And if we are healthy, we embrace these new insights playfully and become more fully ourselves.
Prince certainly did that for many of us: he was sassy and sexy, androgynous and provocative, sensual and spiritual as well as brash, humble and drop dead funny. Oh, did I leave out
gorgeous, too? When he showed up on the scene, parts of America's industrial base was giving up the ghost. Other parts of our land were captured by fear of HIV/AIDS or seduced by the sentimental cynicism of Ronald Reagan. And Prince helped us hear what it sounds like when doves cry. He got us shaking our booties again as we all went crazy. And people started to sing along out loud with The Bangles or Sinead. Whether he was getting funky or naughty, sampling James Brown or bringing Miles onto the stage, this cat helped many of us get back into our bodies again - and treasure being alive.
He was a blues man - like Hendrix - and could help us weep with his guitar. He was a prophet who understood the signs of the times. He was a master musicologist, too who could step onto stage and sing along with Sly Stone's band, jam with Wayne Shorter or cover Joni Mitchell tunes with finesse and grace. And what a sly little pixie he was when he broke into a smile.
For years I've wanted to do a Prince Good Friday liturgy using his tunes to retell the Passion Narrative. It does my heart good to see how so many across the races have come out to honor and celebrate his ministry of music. As he said himself: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life." He helped me make sense of some of the hard times and gave me permission to honor to keep on being me. I give thanks to God for Prince.