About The Funk...

Observational Spittle from the mind of a man of color in his 40s, without the color added (most times). Come in, laugh, and you may learn something...

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Thursday, April 20, 2017

The Doves Still Cry

I have told this story before, but I wanted to start this by bringing it up once again.

On my 15th birthday, my Aunt Emily and Uncle Robert took my cousins Terry, Carol and myself to go see a film called “Purple Rain.”  Back in the day my cousins and I were tight, like brothers and sisters in a lot of ways.  I can’t remember exactly if going to the movie was for my birthday or just good timing, but I was excited to go see the film.  At the time I liked Prince, but I wasn’t the die-hard fan that cried at his desk uncontrollable when the news of his passing hit my smartphone some 32 years later.  I dug “1999”, “Little Red Corvette” and earlier songs like “Controversy” and “I Wanna B Ur Lover”, and I heard that the film was pretty cool, so off we went.

In hindsight I was surprised that my aunt, a fairly religious woman, would take us to a “R”-rated (which it definitely deserved) picture, but as a 15-year-old teenaged boy, seeing Apolonia in that, ahem “light” was pretty cool.  But the “adult” scenes in the film were nothing compared to its star.  Here was a guy dressed in what most people would think was a woman’s shirt who handled a guitar like an extra limb, oozing badness in the coolest of ways.

I was hooked that night, and I immediately picked up the soundtrack, listening to it all the time at the loudest of volumes when my mother wasn’t home on her old Fisher stereo.  

Fast forward to my 17th birthday….better known as the most embarrassing of many times in my life.  The year before my friends (yes, once upon a time I had people who actually liked to hang out with me) threw me a surprise 16th birthday party, the first one I remember ever having, and it was so awesome I tried to hold one on my own.

Good Lord, that was a social disaster.

I wore these way too tight dress pants and shirt that I sweated through so bad, it was that sort of hot that day.  Growing up in the Bronx in the late 1980s was in the back end of the birth of hip hop culture and fashion, and folks, I wasn’t dressed for it.  A lot of kids did indeed come, but they cleared out REAL fast as I kept playing “Kiss,”, “Mountains” and “Anotherloverholenyohead”…over and over and over again.  Those kids wanted to hear Eric B. and Rakim and others from hip-hop’s royalty of the time, and thankfully (and unthankfully as well lol) my cousin Terry, the cool kid from Brooklyn who was a DJ on the side, brought his vinyl and danced with the girl I had a crush on at the time (oh, let me mention that my ex, a gorgeous Jamaican girl that I should have NOT screwed up with as well as the girl that I broke up with her for was at the party as well….ugh). 

But Prince was to be played at that party, and I thought folks dug that.


In college, when “Purple Rain” was being blared out of my dorm room, folks knew that I was not in a good place and left me alone.  I remember a girl’s who had a crush on me (but back in my shallow days her weight deterred my interest) got me the bootleg of the “Black Album” (which was released some 10 years later legally) and I played that sucker until the tape broke (tried to carefully splice that sucker with scotch tape; y’all know you all tried that at least once).

As his popularity waned and the hits stopped coming, I always made sure that every Prince album/cd/digital download was in my possession.  Throughout my life, even tho I would never meet the man and the closest I got to him was several hundred feet away at an outdoor venue in Indianapolis, his attitude,creativity, stubbornness, secret charitable nature and all around uniqueness was the one constant that gave me peace in what turned out to be a disappointing life so far.

Then April 21, 2016 came.

I know a lot of the people who know me think I am being silly; he was a celebrity, someone who wasn’t a friend or family member, or knew I even existed.

But that wasn’t the point.

He was my muse, my hero, my therapist, my screaming at the top of my lungs as I drove to a job that I didn’t want but I had to do to survive.  He was a guitar god, a musical prodigy, a 5 ft 2 inch heel -wearing androgynous dude who could handle a basketball (right, Charlie Murphy?) as adeptly as a 6-string.  He spoke of the Sign ‘O’ of the Times, talked about when doves cried and his mother never being satisfied.  He probably helped procreate more than his fair share of babies with “Adore”, “Scandalous”, and duh, “Do Me Baby “playing in the background of many a lovemaking session.  He could rock, he could roll, he could get funky, he could jazz you up…about the only thing he couldn’t do well is rap.

Prince Rogers Nelson tried, but it wasn’t good.

Ultimately, as today is the 1st anniversary that he left the world a gaping hole, I can only say these things:

I wish he got help in time, and for those who are suffering as he did in silence, please do so.
I love my aunt and uncle for bringing me to the movies that night in Times Square.
I thank you, Mr. Nelson for providing me the light in the dark times, and the sun when things were good.

And finally, I wish you were still here to live to see a few more Dawns with us, because these people who are calling themselves “musicians” couldn’t hold your guitar pick.

I miss ya, and if people think I am weird for it, so be it.  A short dude who wore high heels, makeup, 7-inch heels and once wore sunglasses with 3 lenses (representing the mind’s 3rd eye) was pretty weird too.

Yet we cried when he was gone.

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