Thursday, May 19, 2016

Releasing the Joy

Today's conversation with Erin Sayer was recorded four days before Prince's death. We mentioned Prince briefly as we talked about Erin's projects. We posed for our picture in front of Erin's mural of Prince.

In my years, many celebrities and musicians have died but none have had such an emotional impact on me as the death of Prince. I don't have a Prince story.  Although I have lived most of my life in the Twin Cities, I never had the pleasure to run into him or see him perform. But like any Minnesotan growing up in the 70's and 80's, I reveled in Prince's music.  I danced at Minneapolis clubs to Let's Go Crazy, I snuggled with my Honey to Strolling and felt deeply to songs like Still Will Stand All Time. 

Everyone has their celebrities and musicians that they love, that they identify with. John Lennon's death was similar, but it was sudden and senseless. At the time, it did feel like, as Doctor Who would say, a fixed point in time and space that cannot be changed or avoided. In a moment, everyone knew that we now would have to trudge along without a brother who defined our struggle for peace and love.  Lennon did this by kicking at the dark and pushing the contradictions of the powerful back into their faces. 

The Saturday after Prince's death, I was driving away from my house when Purple Rain came on the radio. Feelings welled up inside my chest and I had to pull over to the side of the street to cry. What is it about Prince that has this effect on me? Yes, I identify with him. Prince was a fellow Minneapolitan who never left town to make it big.  It gave every creative person here the sense that it can be done in Minnesota.  We don't have to move to the coasts to thrive.

As the days continue passing and Prince's death gets further removed, feelings still well up in me when I think about him. It, again, feels like a fixed point in time and space that cannot be changed or avoided. In a moment, we have all lost a brother.  Someone who defined our struggle for peace and love, but not by kicking at the dark and not by showing up the powerful. Feelings well up in me because Prince defined our struggle by reveling in joy. He was the one dancing as if no one was watching, while knowing that millions were.  He sang, not as if he was a lone performer, but as if he was part of a magnificent choir that included everyone who came before him, who sang with him and will, now, sing his songs in the future. He was the one who was loving as if he had never been hurt and living life every day as if it were his last - that is what his music tells me. And to hear his music now, knowing that his beautiful heart is no longer beating, I can't help but cry at our loss.  Just as he raised us all up, a little closer to the light of his God, we now know that a darkness is upon us. But now, we not only know how to kick at the dark, but we also know how to stave it off by reveling in communal joy. Thank you Prince. Let the dancing begin. 

This week, I sat down with Erin Sayer in her large studio space in North Minneapolis to talk about making murals, surviving as an artist and about keeping moving. 



No comments:

Post a Comment