Big Pulp was offline when Prince died unexpectedly in April, but his passing is still inspiring tributes (like this one, which we will never ever mention again), and here’s one more.
I remember the first time I heard “When Doves Cry” in the spring of 1984. The local radio station had been talking up the single all day, getting listeners hyped to hear the premiere. I was glued to my clock radio, and when I heard that opening guitar solo, my cherry popped.
Yes, Prince took my virginity. Through my ear hole. An electric charge jolted my spine from my pelvis to my skull, and a part of my brain opened up and said, “Life is not what you think it is and it can be very very different than this.” Better than LSD. I started looking at the world differently that day.
Prince was a lot of things – enigmatic, ambiguous, a musical genius, a sex machine. But to me, first and foremost, he’ll always be the person who showed me you don’t have to take the path others have planned for you, and you sure the hell don’t have to care what they think about it. In interviews, he called it being “sick.”
The effect this realization on me – a bullied, sheltered, teenage Mormon social misfit scared of his own shadow – is indescribable. If he could wear fishnets and panty briefs on stage and sing about head, then I – even as uncool as I was – had nothing to fear. I learned to speak my mind. I put some swagger in my walk. And I wasn’t afraid to say that sex sounded like a pretty cool idea, even though it would be a couple of years before I could test that theory.
I liked being “sick,” even if my new attitude did not go down well with the Mormons, nor my mom, who was slightly to the right of John Birch. Fortunately, I had someone on my side, showing me that it was ok to be different, to try something new, to declare the polls closed when someone tries to call a vote on your life. He taught me how to survive a shunning, and that being sick was no disadvantage.
Now Prince is gone. And Bowie. The people who made strange sexy are leaving us. So now it’s up to us. I have no musical talent, and less fashion sense, so the best tribute I could give to Prince is to pass along the message. It’s ok to be weird.
Actually…it’s preferable to be weird. It’s better to make your own path – by design or accident. It’s good to be different or strange, to do things your friends wouldn’t, or take risks your peers won’t. Define yourself for yourself. Learn the rules, then break the rules.
It’s ok to dress how you want, be who you want, create what you want. It’s ok to be something different than you were yesterday, and it’s ok to change again tomorrow. And if you’re a creative type – be sick. Strangle the censor in your head. Ignore any creative advice that says can’t or don’t. It’s ok if your first novel runs 800 pages and has footnotes. It’s ok to write a musical about the first Secretary of the Treasury. It’s ok to write a novel-length poem about werewolves.
It’s ok not to have bass in your pop song.
Here’s our playlist of Prince’s Big Pulp-iest songs:
- The Future
- Anna Stesia
- Strange Relationship
- Computer Blue/Darling Nikki
- Electric Chair
- When U Were Mine
- Lady Cab Driver
- Hot Thing
- Sign O’ the Times