Michaeline: Requiem for Prince Playlist

I feel like the heart of the 1980s – the heart of my teenage years – is slowly being ripped out by some mad pixie.

High school dances in the cafeteria were the heart of my social and romantic life. The ultimate dance would have included Bowie’s “Let’s Dance”, “Modern Love”, and “China Girl”; Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” and “P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing)”; and of course, the too-sexy Prince songs: “1999”, “Little Red Corvette,” and “Kiss”. These songs have such a groove, they still make me want to get up and dance, and it’s so disheartening to think these artists are never going to write another song quite like these again. My era is winding down; their time is over.

Prince Rogers Nelson died in his studios in Minneapolis on April 21, 2016, according to CNN. There are a million reasons to remember him and celebrate his songs, but as writers who love romance, we should take time to study him.

Prince wrote songs with really strong women, women with passion who weren’t afraid to express their sexuality. Not only was his characterization great, he could really tell a story in a short space. So I thought it would be appropriate to compile a short list of songs that might find a place in your story playlists.

“1999” – love and dancing in the face of death and destruction. “We could all die any day. But before I let that happen, I’ll dance my life away.”

“Little Red Corvette” “Baby, you’re much too fast.” A vulnerable hero and a woman who knows exactly what she wants. Plus, fast cars.

“Kiss” I’ll always remember singing the line, “Act your age, not your shoe size.” For those of you not familiar with American shoe sizes, I have rather big feet at an 8. Perfect refrain when you are facing immature mean girls. And god, the kissing is great in this song.

graffiti of Prince

Graffiti in Vitoria-Gasteiz via Wikimedia Commons

“Raspberry Beret” A quirky girl with quite the wardrobe. She is the heroine of her own story.

“Nothing Compares 2 U” The Sinead O’Conner version is the one I fell in love with. Perfect for the deep, dark moment of a novel, when the hero/heroine can’t eat, can’t sleep and is overcome with longing for the lost love.

“When Doves Cry” Another dark moment song. “Maybe you’re just like my mother. She’s never satisfied. Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like . . . .”

“Diamonds and Pearls” “If I gave you diamonds and pearls, would you be a happy boy or a girl?” It sounds a little accusing, but is basically a declaration of eternal love, with all the bumps and warts.

“Starfish and Coffee” I discovered a cover of this song on one of my kids’ music albums (For the Kids, Too). It’s definitely worth looking up the episode of The Muppets, Tonight where Prince himself sings it. It’s a sweet and innocent song extolling the imagination. It might be good on the first slot of your playlist as a prayer to “set your mind free, baby, and maybe you’ll understand.”

Trying to understand . . . .

EDIT: Just came across this beautiful piece about what Prince and his music meant to this writer. This is how you write a requiem. http://www.mtv.com/news/2871992/prince-cant-die/?xrs=_s.tw_main Such beautiful pain, transformed into art.

7 thoughts on “Michaeline: Requiem for Prince Playlist

  1. Although I was already a young adult by the time the 80’s rolled around, Prince’s death really struck me between the ribs. Someone said it’s like 2016 is being scripted by George R.R. Martin, where everyone we love dies.

    I drove to Indy yesterday to visit the art museum with a friend who lives there. On the two hour drive I just surfed radio stations, listening to the tributes. One talked about a Prince song I’d never heard before, about loss–“Sometimes It Snows in April.” Very fitting.

    • Oh, gosh, isn’t it the truth? I was surfing the web, and saw something on TIME, I think it was, that said celebrity for celebrity, the mortality rate of famous people isn’t higher than last year. But the ones who have died this year? A lot of them provided the soundtrack for our younger lives. I suppose there are plenty of young people sitting around saying, “What’s Gen X moaning about this time?” I just hope the law of averages catches up to us, and there won’t be so many shocking deaths.

      I’m reviewing my life, especially my creative life. And I feel like a middle-aged woman who is just prancing around, playing at being creative. That isn’t terrible in itself, as long as I’m not fooling myself that it’s something else. Maybe I should treat it like play, and be fearless about being creative, like those great people were. At the very least, it’ll be a fun hobby. Keep me off the streets and away from the nursing home for another decade . . . .

      Then again, there’s always Michelle’s post, which points out a lot of people got a late start and shared their art with the world. https://eightladieswriting.com/2015/06/04/michille-caples-its-never-too-late-part-2/

      • I probably should say I’m totally on a see-saw as far as my self-esteem as a writer goes. Part of me feels semi-failed. But there’s also a part of me that thinks some future biographer is going to read these comments and say, “Ah! So HERE is where she finally got her shit together.”

        (-: So, turning off the wifi so I can get my acts together . . . . I hope I haven’t been too entirely tactless by sharing my inner qualms. To paraphrase someone, death does seem to concentrate the mind wonderfully.

  2. Funny thing, I respect and admire the brilliance and creativity of both Bowie and Prince, but I love them as artists more than I love their music. I’m not sure why, since there are some brilliant songs on your playlist, and what a great soundtrack for your teens. For me, it would have been Blondie’s Heart of Glass or The Pretenders’ Brass In Pocket.

    The death that really struck me in the ribs was Terry Pratchett. I can’t believe he’s been gone for more than a year already.

    • Oh, gosh, when Debbie Harry goes, someone’s going to have to write my post for the week. I will be completely wrecked, and I really don’t want to think about it.

      I’ve been going over in my mind the differences and similarities between Bowie’s death and Prince’s. I’m mourning the public personas of these guys, of course. I don’t know them. But I’m mourning Bowie’s narrative, and I’m mourning Prince’s funk. Both men were quite private despite being huge celebrities. It seems to me that Bowie was more open about his process, whereas Prince was more likely to let his music speak for him.

      Both artists were concerned about other worlds, though, and as a fantasy writer, I want to see what I can squeeze from their work.

  3. Prince’s death and Robin Williams deaths felt like the death of my youth. I had a secret crush on the personna of Robin and his funny, deep, human ways and his soulful eyes. His characters took us on a journey of emotional ups and downs and left us seeing the best and worst of humanity.

    Prince was the music during my coming of age years when I searched for who I was. Those times the tunes blared and the heady excitement filled the room with hormones and sweaty bodies as we all just wanted to be free and not realizing in our youth we were as free as we’d ever be.

    Yes those years are gone and so is that girl. Left instead of the girl with her hair blowing in the breeze and the bottle of Strawberry Hill, is my thinning hair and stray grays, lots of lost possibility, a bit too much junk in the trunk, arthritis, and teenagers who too fight the invisible jail.

    • Curiously enough, I just wrote this week about Robin Williams being my first crush. It took me at least a year to even click on anything YouTube wanted to throw up at me on Robin Williams. I was very angry. Finally realizing that it was a “death with dignity” situation helped me a lot. Celebrities don’t owe us any explanations for their personal lives, but their stories are role models, and I’m glad someone shared those things with us.

      Bowie went out in great style, though. I’d lost touch with his art after the 80s, and out of curiosity I watched Blackstar and Lazarus when YouTube popped them up. I was blown away — Blackstar seemed to somehow weave together all my very favorite sounds into something coherent — something that worked. I needed to know more about the artist and his creative process, and what’s more, I needed to get to work. I’m on the downhill slide; it’s time to turn that potential into art. And if Bowie can do it during cancer treatments, surely I can do it with aching ankles and impending menopause.

      (-: So good to hear your perspective, Jennifer. Keep up the good fight!

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