We were children of the 80’s. The last time a generation was raised without a computer in the house before they were born. We were raised on macaroni and cheese, cheap hamburger and pasta. There was a vast collection of vinyl records in the living room, an old, giant television; the screen maybe eighteen inches but the box surrounding it was solid wood. Something new had finally found its way to those quiet country roads back then, and it was called cable television, it was amazing. Mom liked music, Dad did too but Mom was with us alot more in those early days, so we heard alot of what she liked. Other than the vinyls, in that moment alot of the time she put the station to channel 35, and for the first time in our young lives we saw music. Everything about it was cool and sometimes scary. Mom always let us watch whatever we wanted, even at that young age, and I am greatful she let us do this. There was never any filter to the outside world beyond those quiet roads. There is something else out there, she seemed to tell, its bigger and crazier than you can imagine right now, but its there and just knowing that its there is the beginning of seeing it. Channel 35 was normally on during that time of the trial period, she liked Guns N’ Roses and Tom Petty. She made sure we knew who Michael Jackson was and made sure we understood how important he was. But Mom liked Prince as much as she liked anyone else. The first time I remember hearing Prince was Moms’ vinyl of 1999. Heard that one quite a bit as a child and listening to it again now I am struck at how fresh it sounds. How, if it were released next week it would be considered an instant classic, and probably be crowned as a “new” sound, leading to it spawning a thousand or so shitty knock offs that don’t come close to the original innovative sound. Wouldn’t a handful of Prince knockoffs be better than half the garbage you hear today? Better yet, isn’t just about anybody today doing some watered down version of the things Prince did 20 or 30 years ago? The followers will always be there, but its not easy to be the first; be the leader, be the one to stand a little off to the side and not want to be part of the group. Trail Blazers. Kings. Queens. Prince. Mom. Mom who taught me to be that one slightly off to the side. To be an individual, despite my natural inclination to be invisible with all the other sheep. To be a Prince, if I may be so corny. I remember the first time I saw Prince, was for the music video for Kiss, a bizarre, exotic video to see when you’re about 5 or 6, which leads to natural questions about various uncomfortable subjects for a parent. Prince brought the thoughts and Mom was always there to at least try to explain, (sometimes in agonizing detail), what she thought was a good answer. They could be a good team like that.
It was only noise to me when I was younger, much like Mom’s words were. As I got older and started to read, understand and process the words through my own life lessons, I began to realize how much of a visionary the man was. Much the same, the things my Mom used to say to me that went in one ear and made a quick exit out the other, began to resonate with each passing year. Of all the things she taught me its the small instances of life lessons and discussions she had with me that I think of now more than anything. For example; to never take anyone for granted, confront your problems, don’t run away from them and to treat others with the same respect as you would seek from them .
What I must say right now, respectfully, that although she probably still considers 1999 to be his best work, I must disagree and go with Sign O’ the Times. We’ve never had a talk about this, but I’m sure I would walk away from it with a slightly different point of view, without my mind being changed. They are teachers who open your mind to different ways of interpreting things without stripping you of your individuality. This is a power that both of them share, in my opinion. It’s a beautiful thing, really, that I’ll never get to thank Prince for, and that I don’t thank her enough for. I’m not sure if I ever have thanked her for it, now that I think about it.
I found myself thinking of my Mom the day Prince died. I didn’t realize how much he was ingrained in my early childhood until he was gone. My Mom said after Micheal Jackson died that he was like my Elvis. If that is true then what is Prince? My Jimi Hendrix? My John Lennon? Or was he just so damn unique that he will just be him with no company to keep? Too many questions sometimes. What I am trying to say is thank you Mom, for everything you did to help me become a half way decent human being. You’re the best. Happy Mother’s Day.