Published on April 25th, 2016 | by Dave Scaddan0
Goodnight, Sweet Prince
As The Feedback Society mourns Prince after his passing, our resident superfan, Dave Scaddan, talks about what the loss of the icon means to him.
I thought at first that I hadn’t really lost anything. I never knew him personally. I’ve been listening to the man for almost my whole life, and I still can. Prince probably has a vault of unreleased stuff that could rival Neil Young or Frank Zappa, so I might even get to hear a new Prince song every once in a while. In this sense, Prince cannot actually die.
But then I realized I’m never going to see him live. I’d always figured that sometime, Prince would come near enough to me when I had the time and money to travel that I’d somehow get that done. But now that will never happen. I’ll never get to see the greatest performer of my generation tearing it down in person, standing in the same giant cathedral as him.
On Wednesday night I was home alone listening to a Prince record I’d just bought and had never heard before. It was the Mountains twelve-inch, a ‘maxi-single’ of sorts from the Parade album which features a ten-minute version of this solid, but largely forgotten single. Without an inkling that his death was less than a day away, I just sat in awe of how many ways this man had to make incredible music. This version of Mountains is catchy, uplifting, and harkens back to Prince’s earliest Loring Park Sessions with its tight-jam instrumental extension that doesn’t appear on the album version. Twenty-four hours later, my landline would be ringing and my inbox pinging like someone in my family had died.
My sister called to see if I was alright. A friend I only talk to once or twice a year called me up to offer condolences and reminisce about what Prince had meant to the now-almost-forgotten twelve-year-old versions of ourselves. A coworker, who I don’t ever remember having spoken to about Prince at any time, stopped to say, “I’m sorry.” I got several, “You ok?” messages to the point where, without moving from my couch, I spent a whole evening talking to close ones, listening to and watching various Prince pieces and trying to be happy about the fact that the music is still here. I guess I was surprised by all the calls and messages because I wouldn’t have thought that friends and family would identify me as the big Prince fan in their lives, the one they had to call and check in on, knowing I’d be blue. I guess I talk about Prince more than I realize.
I can remember arguing on the elementary school playground, probably in ’84 or ’85, with a group of kids who were saying that Michael Jackson was the greatest music star ever, feeling myself getting more and more outnumbered as more and more kids caught wind of the conflict and listened in, thinking, “better than Michael Jackson? Is this kid crazy?” I can even remember sensing (correctly) that I was about to cross the line into making a pariah of myself by passionately defending an unpopular opinion amongst a group of unified pre-teens — an action which amounted to social suicide. I also remember not caring, that the audacity of these people’s wrongness had to be corrected (or at least challenged) and that if it meant I got a reputation for being a weirdo or a freak at a key moment in my social development, so be it.
I also remember a moment from around the same time when a friend of mine sold me his cassette of 1999 by the bus stop in front of the school. He and I had both worn out our copies of Purple Rain, and Around the World in a Day hadn’t come out yet. In search, nay, in need of more, he’d found a copy of 1999 on tape before I did for fifteen bucks — a pretty steep deal at the time. But when his mom heard the tape, she banned it. He figured if he sold it to me for ten bucks, he’d only be out five and the tape would still be within his reach for borrowing purposes. I remember that his mom watched him sell it to me from her car as she was picking him up from school. This struck me as strange. She didn’t want the lyrics of Let’s Pretend We’re Married to ring out in her son’s bedroom, but in someone else’s, fine. I’d say it was his loss, but the idea that one can ever lose a Prince song is untenable.
That’s why it’s all going to be okay. Something’s slipped away from me these last few days, it is true. It is something that’s made my life more fun, more exciting, made me smile so many times that it has probably altered my appearance ever-so-slightly. The chance to ever see the man who was so bad I wanted to be ridiculed for praising him is gone. The songs are not lost. I’ll bet that kid who sold me his 1999 tape — he’s an early-forties lawyer in Toronto now — can still sing the chorus of Let’s Pretend We’re Married on cue, possibly even the oo-ee-sha-sha-koo-koo-yeah part. Just the thought of it makes me smile.