FGV takes a day off: Prince
This might not mean anything to you, but I have nothing to share with you today other than my reflections regarding Prince. Normal FGV content will resume tomorrow. Thank you for being patient.
Prince was a magical genius woven through every part of my life. Nothing can stop these tears from falling.
My childhood swung wildly between just having enough money to eat and finding out which caravan park would be next on my mother’s list for us.
We settled for a while in an Australian seaside town with little going for it unless you were into violence on the streets at the hands of disenfranchised young people or bucket loads of institutionalised racism.
I was a child with a million reasons to be scared of the world with uncertainty haunting my every turn. Entertainment meant collecting empty drink bottles from around the area and taking them to the corner shop for a small refund.
I would buy a bag of sweets called cobbers. Cobbers were caramel bits covered in chocolate and they were my opportunity to pretend I could afford treats like a normal, happy child. If I had a bumper day with the bottles, I would have coins left over to play a song on the jukebox.
Even back then I understood somehow I was queer, so my song selections were camp and empowering to a kid with nothing to do but hang around the jukebox and daydream about being fabulous. Cyndi Lauper. Culture Club. Kim Wilde. As outrageous as some of these acts appeared to the small minds of my small seaside town, none of my song choices drew as much ridicule as Little Red Corvette by Prince.
This record surely needed to be replaced by the store owner due to the number of replays I insisted upon. Teenagers playing the arcade games nearby would sneer or roll their eyes in my direction. Adults would tell each other loudly that they had heard Prince was a faggot.
Of course the sounds of that groundbreaking single were enough to capture my attention, but the idea that Prince was someone who could turn my small town on its head by shredding, screaming, dancing and cavorting spoke volumes to my tiny queer heart.
As a tearaway trying to escape multiple broken homes a few years after the corner shop, I would cruise around with anyone older than me with a license and a tape deck. A local teenager named John played the Purple Rain album through customised car speakers and I discovered more information than any adult was willing to tell me.
Masturbation. Sex. Religion. Rock and roll. Pop. Purple Rain exploded into my life in the form of scorching guitar solos and personal sexual exploration. It remains one of the defining periods of my life and the album is the definitive soundtrack of my puberty and adolescence.
If you could spy on me a few years following Purple Rain, you would find me and my sister Monique drunkenly serenading random house parties with our versions of Starfish & Coffee and The Ballad of Dorothy Parker lifted from the Sign ‘o’ The Times album. I’m still not sure how my teenage brain processed everything I heard but all I know is Prince was maybe the only person in my pop music magazines and on my radio singing about AIDS, war, famine, sex and partying until you rattled your house to the ground.
The Prince parallels in my life went on and on.
I lived with my sister Juanita in a plasterboard house that was freezing in winter. I had to walk a couple of kilometres to my full time job in a shoe store that I was forced to take after dropping out of school. It was during this time that I played the Graffiti Bridge soundtrack non-stop for weeks upon weeks.
A few years later, I slept on the sidewalk for two nights to get tickets for my home town stop of Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls world tour. I lost my voice on the night of the show from screaming and singing along to one of the greatest spectacles on the planet.
My Prince story goes on. Year after year. Decade after decade. For every terrible or wonderful thing I experienced, there is a corresponding Prince song, album or concert.
I have seen the superstar in mammoth arenas in Sydney, London and San Diego. I have been a paid member of the multiple incarnations of his website. I impatiently waited to download his history-making digital releases via shoddy dial up Internet access. I was ecstatic to witness Prince perform in small intimate gigs around Hollywood, standing shoulder to shoulder with celebrities and movie stars.
As my personal circumstances improved, as I experienced heartbreak, as I fell in love and as I took myself on journeys all over the globe, Prince has been an undeniable thread and a soundtrack like no other.
I experienced the joy of attending his show in London during 2014 and as joyous as that occasion was for me, my heart is broken knowing I will never again witness the genius of Prince live on stage.
I have been crying for hours and nothing can stem the sadness. The knowledge that the rest of my time on Earth is to be devoid of one of the few positive constants I have known is almost too much to contemplate.