“Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called Life.”
I was in utter shock today when I learned the news of music legend Prince’s sudden death. Jesus, we’re only four months into 2016, and we’re still losing more irreplaceable music legends one right after another. I remember feeling this same shock when I heard the news of David Bowie’s death only an hour after he died.
I was born in 1980 and spent my entire childhood watching MTV with my family every day, so I grew up being very familiar with music artists like Prince and Bowie. Seeing all of these longtime music artists that I’ve known my entire life pass away forces me to face my own mortality and the fact that none of us are here forever, including myself. It also makes me realize how old I am getting and that there will come a day when ALL of the music artists I grew up with will someday be dead and gone….if I live long enough to surpass them all. And that’s a really sobering thought….especially when I look at the sorry, pathetic garbage that passes for “music” anymore.
One of the coolest moments of my life that I remember had something to do with Prince. I was just a young kid of 19, and I was at Universal Studios in Orlando on New Years’s Eve 1999. It was the first time I had ever been to the state of Florida, and I was there to perform on live national television at the 2000 Florida Citrus Bowl Halftime Show. Part of my performer’s itinerary package included celebrating New Year’s Eve at Universal Studios. It was the night before the new millennium, and everyone was half expecting the dreaded Y2K glitch to shut everything down into pitch blackness at the stroke of midnight. In the last few hours of 1999 leading up to midnight, everyone at Universal Studios was dancing in the streets while huge parades of floats threw out Márdi Grás beads. And Prince’s song “Party Like It’s 1999” played over and over on the loudspeakers. Those final 60 minutes of 1999 were the most perfect moment for that song….it was as if that moment was the culmination of that song’s 15-year existence. It was surreal.
The deaths of Bowie and Prince have shocked and saddened the world not just because of the loss of their otherworldly musical talents, but also because these two artists were also otherworldly characters who were unlike anyone else before them. These two men were un-apologetically their own unique selves, and they inspired other people to want to proudly be their own unique individuals in a world where everyone wants to look like everyone else and have the same cookie-cutter lives as everyone else. I respect the Hell out of people like Prince and David Bowie, because they have the courage and passion to develop their own unique characters and live their lives for themselves. In the last decade of my life, that has been something I have learned to appreciate and believe in as well, especially in the last few years since moving to SoFla where everyone else around me has long waist-length hair, large fake breasts, large fake butts, uses drugs, and listens to the same House music. I’ve always stuck out like a sore thumb around here, but I’ve learned to embrace it and use it to my advantage. I believe it was Albert Einstein who once said that those who follow the crowd will only go far as the crowd, but those who follow their own paths will go places no one else could ever imagine.
I’ve always enjoyed Prince’s music and I have quite a large number of his songs in my digital MP3 music collection. And now I’ll have an even greater appreciation for his music now that he is gone. Just as with the loss of David Bowie, the world has lost a HUGE musical talent and the quality of music overall has again lessened a little more. This is what it sounds like when the world cries.