I was with Prince last night – at Madison Square Garden.
As you may know, I sincerely love Prince. And I’ve loved him pretty much for as long as I’ve appreciated music. Really, he’s one of the reasons I appreciate music. Although I didn’t learn the meaning of many of the lyrics until much later, I always understood the brilliance of it all. His voice, every instrument, the moves, individuality, ridiculously cool, and really sassy – but yet so quiet and shy. He’s my ultimate.
In a way, my borderline worship becomes a problem when it comes to expectations. I build him up in my head, enjoying each time I see a video of him or hear any of his songs as much as a normal person would enjoy a big cupcake or a peppermint patty – delighted, satisfied, and a bit blissful. When it comes time to see him in person – live, in the same room with him – it makes me a little nervous. Is that weird?
First, I worry I won’t enjoy the moments together if they have to be shared with thousands of people. It’s too important to me for it to be so public. And it’s a 100 percent guarantee that those people won’t understand me or what I feel for him. They’ll be assholes who think they’re cool because they know all of the words to 1999, but have never heard of Lovesexy. Or they’ll constantly complain that they miss the nasty Prince since he no longer grinds on the stage or performs Darling Nikki. Or, worst of all, they won’t want to dance.
But then the unreasonable fear is that he’ll disappoint me. How could he disappoint me, we all wonder. We all know that he could walk on stage and curse us all out, and I would simply gaze into his eyes. But the small fear is there. He’ll walk on stage and for the first time in my life, I’ll wonder what all the fuss is about, basically questioning my faith. Seeing him in person could reveal the lack of true depth of my love – I’ll be exposed as a fraud (even though now I’m exposing myself as a crazy person).
So Prince concerts come with a bit of anxiety. The first opportunity I had to see him was in 2004. A friend bought me a ticket to see him for shortly after I moved to Oakland. It was the Musicology tour. I loved that album. And Prince was just recovering from a bit of a nonsense period – so it was good to have him back. It was the perfect way to welcome myself to Oakland. The only problem was timing. The concert was on Thursday, September 9, 2004, about two weeks after my move. My father died on Saturday, September 4th. I flew right back to Philadelphia. But several days later I returned to Oakland to commit to the move, and to see Prince. I figured Dad would have been pissed if I chose to sit around and mope rather than enjoy Prince for a couple of hours. So I did. At least I did my best. The concert was amazing. He did old and new, and it felt like a party. But I’m pretty sure I cried through parts. Not really what I imagined my mood to be at a Prince concert.
Six years later, I got my second chance. At almost an exact opposite time in my life (I’m super happy, I’m moving east rather than west, I’m chasing not running), the Welcome 2 America tour feels like perfect timing. Less than a month before I leave “America,” only Prince could provide me with such an ironic send-off. And it was perfect. Well, Prince was perfect. And the music was perfect. And my seat was perfect.
There were only two problems. I was sitting alone since I wasn’t able to get a group of 3 seats together to sit with my friends. And then there were grumpsters sitting next to me – literally sitting. How can you sit through Purple Rain, you freaks!! (I wanted to scream that, but didn’t). How can you have your arms tightly crossed over your chest during Let’s Go Crazy, you no-good-party-poopers! And how does the mere sight of Sheila E. not make your head want to explode, you monsters! Fortunately, my annoyance with my neighbors was peripheral. I danced like I was auditioning for America’s Got Talent (if my talent were fanaticism). And I screamed so very much – I even gave myself a pep talk that involved accepting the fact that I may do permanent damage to my voice. And plenty of other good people around us came prepared for the party.
And that’s what it was – a party. A party with Prince. A really great party. I didn’t mind that it wasn’t an intimate setting. And it solidly confirmed my genuine love and appreciation for him. It’s a real thing. And I’m coming to terms with the fact that I narrowly missed an opportunity to go to the after party (damn me and my uncharged phone).
Really, nothing could make a night with Prince anything less than perfect. Thanks for the right send-off, my friend!