Prince, Bob Dylan, and I are Minnesota’s greatest exports was the running joke for over a decade. My creativity and innovation may never hit the masses like theirs, but I love and appreciate my pocket-sized MN brothers.
If you claim to not have a Prince memory, you’re a big, fat liar. He was that big. It’s not that we all had the chance to meet him or see him perform when he was just a Minneapolis kid, although being a Minnesota kid myself, I do know a few people who can claim those memories.
Prince memories run all through my life. Skating to “Let’s Go Crazy,” dancing in my room to “Seven,” and singing my heart out to “Nothing Compares 2 U,” which provided lots of fascinating kid banter on the topic of whether Sinead O’Connor was pretty or weird.
For the record, I vote both. Pretty and weird are not mutually exclusive.
Prince’s Super Bowl Halftime Show in 2007 was magic. It was right before the final collapse with Ex2, but we were both too in awe of what was happening on the screen in front of us to be pissy with each other. This was in the Hannah and Alli days, so whenever I was really excited about something on television, there was a lot of doggie head tilting and staring.
That whole performance was so incredible.
He played an “All Along the Watchtower” transition into Foo Fighters that night, so the Dylanite in me threw hands to head and repeatedly exclaimed things like, “Are you seeing what I’m seeing?” to any creature in earshot.
“Can I play this guitar?” he asked.
“YES!” we collectively screamed.
In the rain. In the damned rain, like he created the clouds just to give “Purple Rain” a little extra something that night when they had the marching band prepped.
I loose my shit if someone cuts me off in traffic and he's the coolest MF'er in the universe, on a guitar solo in a rain storm.
Someone once asked Eric Clapton what it was like to be the greatest guitar player in the world and he replied, “I don’t know, ask Prince.”
Prince gave me a last good memory with Ex2, something for which I am truly grateful.
He also gave me some amazing memories with my friends. My friend, Zach, is an admirer of Prince, something you found out pretty quickly when becoming his friend.
One night, while being drunk and making an idiot of myself, I asked Zach if I was a good dancer while dancing badly. In true nice guy Zach fashion, he said, “Well, I have really high standards for dancing because I’ve seen Prince play.”
That was possibly one of the most satisfying answers I ever received to one of my drunken questions.
There was a bar on 41st Street here in Sioux Falls, which I believe was called Mulligan’s or something else generically Irish, where there was a weekly karaoke night. Fiona Apple was my jam (“I’ve been a bad girl… “ it is all so bloody textbook with me) and my friend Zach joined me on “Groove Is In the Heart,” with our buddy, Jay, dropping in Beastie Boys during the spoken part.
As usual, I was up at the bar, refilling my gin and tonic, when that opening guitar riff boomed and the unmistakable moan dropped.
“You don’t have to be beautiful, to turn me on…”
The gin and tonic nearly dropped as I watched Zach crush it.
“You don’t have to be cool to rule my world, ain’t no particular sign I’m more compatible with…”
He danced his funky self all over that little stage--a small town, white boy carrying a few extra pounds was like the second coming of the His Royal Badness. It was all so beautiful and raw and sexy and well, confusing. Zach was one of my roommates. Zach was obviously talented—I’d witnessed enough band practice to see he was a skilled guitar player and vocalist. But Prince karaoke showed me that Zach was a performer.
“I know how to undress me…”
This was so much better than Julia Roberts pretending to be a hooker with a heart of gold.
“Act your age, momma, not your shoe size…”
We whooped, hollered, whistled, and danced as Zach sang his heart out.
I fell in love with Prince a little harder that night.
“But life is just a party and parties weren’t meant to last.” - 1999