The Prince of Minnesota

When someone of note passes, it's become de rigueur for anyone with internet access to write a tribute of some sort. Not more than 40 minutes after the news broke, Huffington Post had at least two Prince-memorial pieces up. It's not surprising, given the ripples this diminutive life-force created in his lifetime. I normally don't care for the navel-gazing posts that litter cyberspace after a "celebrity" crosses over (are you ready for the "10 Prince songs that made me a better parent" articles?) but this time it's different, at least for those of us who communicate primarily via writing here in Minnesota. Even for those of us who do so lazily and as a hobby. We need to share our Prince stories, as we would have had this happened a hundred and fifty or so years ago- we'd have sat around a fire telling our kinfolk about that time we ran into Prince at the City Center food court. "...and he was so tiny I probably could have tucked him into my purse! Okay, kids, back into the covered wagon."

If you're from Minnesota, you don't ask your fellow citizens if they like Prince. It would be like asking them if they enjoyed breathing. "Well, yeah, you know, if the mood is right." Nope. Not saying every Minnesotan is a Misery-style fangirl or boy, but still. Growing up here, in PrinceLand, you know things. You learn his lyrics via osmosis. When a song of his pops out of the speakers at the grocery store or Target it isn't novel or surprising, it just is.

One of the many rites of passage here in the Land of 10,000 Lakes is driving around town, preferably around one or two of those aforementioned lakes, windows down, your friend in the passenger seat next to you with her feet up on the dash and a perfectly fitting Prince jam blaring on the radio. His songs? They were all pretty much fitting. Even when it was discussing how many positions there are in a one night stand or fighting parents or horses hanging around watching a kid lose his virginity in a barn, his music just fit. Perfectly.

My peers and I came of age during the 80's. At the time there was no indication that it was a magical point in history, a beautiful chunk of years to be alive and young and free to roam the streets. Looking back now, as various icons leave us and move on to the next place, it fills me with both a grateful joy and a profound sadness. The joy is because we were able to drench ourselves in their talent for such a sweet stretch of time, the sadness is because it's over and no matter how much fun was had, it will never feel like we got enough. Just one more song, just one more movie, just one more concert...just one more, please.

When we Minnesotans get braggy about our state, we mention several cultural standouts. Betty Crocker! Paul freakin Bunyan! Post it Notes! Bob Dylan! And always, always our sweet Prince. He is as Minnesota as the Vikings, only he won a lot of things and he built his own mother effing stadium.

It's a routine in our home to have music playing while whichever kids who are around and I gather in the kitchen either preparing dinner or asking when it'll be ready. The night we lost our Prince was no exception and of course, it was him and his lyrical gift filling the room. As one son prepped the burgers for grilling and the other stood by the fridge observing, the observant one said: "Mom, one of my favorite memories is you and me in the car, singing along to Raspberry Beret really loud. Man, I'm sad."

And that sums it up. I can't properly express what a loss this is to the world. Especially our world here in Minnesota. There aren't enough words...so I'm just going to echo what my son said.

Man, I'm sad.


  1. I thought you might write about this since you are located in Minnesota but mostly because we are virtually the same age. (I'm 9/19/66).

    Prince songs are part of every good memory of my teenage and young adult life. I loved him, my friends loved him and the best part was that it didn't really matter what type of music you called your favorite.

    I'm about 1,200 miles away from Prince's hometown but he was loved on the East Coast too.

    Man I'm sad sums it up for a collective nation.

    1. Awww! We're practically birthday twins!

      Yep. It's almost like he was ours, right? So glad we were able to get to know him and even more glad he shared his gifts with us.

  2. I'm sad too. I know I saw him the first time in 1984 with some people from HS, but I have no idea who it was.

  3. Me too Jenny. ME TOO! I am just heartbroken and can't believe -- don't WANT to believe -- that Prince is no longer with us. I think that for a lot of us who came of age with his music, we feel like a key piece of us has died too...at least, I sure do. Is it OK to share the link to the post I wrote for Purple Rain's 30th "birthday" 2 years ago? In case yes, here we go: http://www.jcsmusicsbest.blogspot.com/2014/06/happy-30th-birthday-purple-rain.html

  4. I totally get it! For some reason, while I knew Prince was a big deal here in MN, I failed to realize what a phenomenon he was world-wide. I thought I (and others here) loved him and cheered for him because he was local; it wasn't until he passed that I realized what an internationally recognized talent he was.

  5. Prince was the soundtrack of my high school days, and he was always part of my inner soundtrack. And people make fun of me for always trying to create impromptu Prince dance parties. I am so sad too.

  6. I hope this hiatus brings good news. Miss your posts.

    1. Oh Sarah!! Thank you. Just life getting crazier by the second! But I'm baaaaack....

      Thank you for thinking of me. Hugs.


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