Put the Right Letters Together and Make a Better Day: A Year Without Prince



It’s hard to believe it’s already been a year since Prince unexpectedly overdosed. Though if you read the stories this week from the nation’s and world’s largest outlets, it might not have been a surprise to some in his inner circle as he stashed pills across his house in concealed bottles.

I guess all geniuses have their cross and burdens to carry. And that’s ok; they are still human after all.

It’s hard to understand why those documents were chosen to be released this past week and why others are fighting over his unreleased music, but arguing those points seem counterproductive, and honestly, a bit against the spirit of The Purple One.

As he penned, “all that glitter ain’t gold.” While the original lyric had nothing to do with this application, a year ago, I had never heard that lyric. I had known the classics and impactful tracks/albums of his catalog and most importantly, I adored, loved and respected his talents as a multi-instrumentalist.

Only a few days after he passed, I began to work my way chronologically through his albums, easily starting on a 10-hour road trip to North Dakota. Almost a year later, I’m sitting at No. 21 of his 39 studio albums because I don’t want to move past his phase of amazing soul that he captured with The New Power Generation. The dark horse in that era, “The Truth,” is an incredible mix of acoustic and electric that works as well as the two have ever worked together in music.

There have also been some random discoveries along the way too.

The random “unreleased” demos that have appeared on YouTube have also been a great find. While the club bangers make for some great energy at work or around the house, his Loring Park Sessions from 1977 – an amazing combination of jazz and funk that would make Herbie Hancock blush – as well as his Madhouse projects showcase his musical versatility.

For my money, though, the comedy in this Vanity-6 track – another side project of his – is No. 1 in my book simply because of the lyrics (WARNING: explicit content).

The cool part about these discoveries is that I’m not the only one. People who have idolized and worshiped Prince for much longer than I have, have said the same thing. I’ve shared some of my discoveries with them and it spawned a whole new discovery of one man’s unpolished gems.

While I kid around with Prince’s talents as a lyric writer, his abilities were second to none and I discovered why since his passing as well.

My mother, like Prince, was always a Joni Mitchell fan, I had never worked my way towards Joni’s musical camp and in this past year, I learned that she could really tell a story with her lyrics and through the music. Few have been able to accomplish as well as she did. While Prince’s sound was totally different from the folk rhythms of Mitchell’s, the idea was the same. It’s easy to see why he’d choose such a beautiful writer to try and match prose with.

With his talents for creating musical masterpieces with rich lyrics, he wasn’t kidding when he “I can’t be played. A person that tries to play me, plays themselves.” And he was 100-percent right. The tributes this past year have been aplenty and not all of them are created equal.

To this day, the only one that seemed on par was D’Angelo performing “Sometimes It Snows in April” on Jimmy Fallon just days after Prince’s passing. It was an emotional piece of music that can still bring me to tears as it did when he performed it live.

I guess the real point here is that the mass musical genesis that has taken place this past year has been one of the greatest gifts and it’s an incredible legacy to leave behind. The views outside of Paisley Park to this day are still a site to behold. In the day’s after Prince’s passing, the energy around the property was one of sadness, but it was most importantly one of love as thousands – young and old from different walks of life – gathered to remember an icon.

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