Why I Mourn a Famous Musician I’ve Never Met

I have to admit that I was caught off-guard by my own reaction to Prince’s death and I’m still processing everything, because he and his music had an effect on my life, especially during my teenage years. Now, I’m seeing that it was more than I even realized. The people and things that affect you and shape your life do so in a way that goes much deeper than just “music” or “image”, especially when you’re in your early teens and you’re becoming more aware of the world around you and learning, probably for the first time, that ambiguity is the norm and that the world doesn’t work in terms of absolutes. The world around you is what it is and what it wants to be. It’s shaped by the sum of our individual actions. No matter how much we want the world and life to fit into a tidy little cubbyhole or category, it won’t and the more you try and force it into a place where it doesn’t belong, the more grief you get. Not to mention you’ve just wasted a lot of time and energy on something so futile.

It wasn’t just the music, although, his music was an important part of it. I’m a square peg. I’ve always been the square peg. I grew up in an environment where those around me, namely my father, tried to force me into that “round hole”, no matter how much damage it caused and they were stubborn enough and insecure enough to keep trying to ram me into a place where I did not belong. They did it because it made *them* feel better about themselves. Strong, smart women were a threat. I can’t tell you how many times I heard, growing up, all the things that girls didn’t do or couldn’t do (even when it ran counter to what I was seeing when I turned on TV or opened up a book.) It’s easier to try to deal with the “threat” because it’s less scary than dealing with things like feelings and emotions. It was easier to make me doubt myself than it was for him to face his own self-doubts.

Prince was someone who defied labels and in a way, let me know that it was not only okay to be that square peg, but I didn’t have to go into that round hole, either. Of course, it would take me a long time (and a ton of bad decisions later) to truly realize this. The music was also an escape–and Prince’s material was one of the ingredients in the salve for all the invisible bruises I had.

I learned that ambiguity is something to be embraced, not feared, because we won’t find out who we truly are unless we become fearless and ask questions and explore and poke at things. And then we have to remain fearless because there will be people who will not like that you are asking questions and some will even try to stop you. But you still have to be fearless because you will not find out who you truly are and what you are meant to be if you don’t ask or poke at the hornets’ nest.

I can see now that in a subtle and roundabout way, Prince also let me know that it was okay to be a girl and that I was not inferior because I possessed two X chromosomes.  The fact that he had female musicians in his various bands spoke much louder to that than all the lingerie-clad proteges he had back in the day.  The lingerie-wearing proteges are long gone, but Princes’ using female musicians in his band still remain.

I also mourn because he embodied what music really is. Music is more than melodies and harmonies. It’s more than a hook or a bridge. It’s more than just an abstract art, a form of expression, or a commodity. Music can be a lot of things, but bottom line, music is joy. Pure, unadulterated joy. Prince’s genius was in the live performance. You can listen to his stuff, but in order to see exactly how much of a genius he was, you had to watch him perform live. Watch and see the joy on his face and in how he carries himself.

That is what music is all about. Joy.

I am only realizing all of these things now. That’s the beauty of how someone affects your life–you don’t realize it until they’re no longer here. It’s human nature to take things for granted–especially our culture. In fact, one of the sociological criteria for something to be a part of our culture is that it is taken for granted.

These artists, these people who create things that bring me joy, especially those who gave me something to hang onto during some of the darkest and crappiest times of my life, will have my eternal gratitude.

 

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40 Years

As I start my third semester of college this week, I was reminded that it’s been 40 years since I started Kindergarten.

Also, 40 years ago, they’re saying, Bruce Springsteen’s  Born to Run was released.

I don’t have much to say today, mostly because I’m tired and my brain is tired. I have Chemistry this semester. It’s going to be a lot of work.

Today’s post is just a song.

 

Tramps like us…baby, we were born to run…

A Little Musical Therapy

Music is one of my coping mechanisms. This is my current good mood song:

There is no rhyme nor reason to what I consider a “feel good” song, other than it makes me feel good when I listen to it.

 

 

Please Make This Happen, Internet

As I slug my way through the remainder of Sunday-less football, I find myself watching Brady Bunch reruns. Today, I saw the episode where Peter’s voice changes before the kids are supposed to record their smash hit song and then Greg pens a new one at the last minute so Peter doesn’t have to be left out.

As I watched this video, I also thought of this musical number from the movie Pod People, which was featured in season 3 of Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Then it hit me…

There must be a mash-up of these two videos. I’m not skilled in audio/video editing otherwise I would do it.

INTERNET, PLEASE MAKE THIS HAPPEN!

Musical Playlisticle Monday

Welcome to Musical Playlisticle Monday, where I think of a topic and then come up with a list of five songs that I associate with that topic. It’s based upon a link-up that I used to participate in called “Twisted Mix-Tape Tuesday”.  Although this is not an official meme or link-up, you are welcome to play along if you like. (If there enough interest, I could turn this into a link-up in the future.)

The topic for this week’s “playlisticle” is the dreaded “earworm”. And earworm is a song that gets stuck in your head and torments you by playing in an infinite loop until you either crack or you get something else stuck in your head.

I’m actually very prone to earworms. Sometimes, the only way to get rid of the earworm infestation in my head is to play the song in question until I stop thinking about it.

I apologize if I torment you. However, I find that exorcising earworms to be very therapeutic. And if you feel you must, you are most certainly free to rid yourself of your own earworms in the comments.

 

1. “Dominique”-Sœur Sourire (1963)

This song has received somewhat of a revival, thanks to the TV show American Horror Story: Coven, but I remember hearing this played on the radio a lot in the early 1970s, when I was a very young child. That’s the thing about radio back then: they didn’t stop playing songs because they were old. As a result, I knew quite a few Sixties songs before the age of 5.

I know that this song caught my ear because it was sung in French and to my young years, it sounded like gibberish. This is one of those songs that would get stuck in my head over the years, and because no oldies station actually played it, I began to wonder if I had an imaginary song stuck in my head.

 

2. The Rapper-The Jaggerz (1970)

This song used to get stuck in my head a lot when I worked in a cheese factory after I graduated from high school. It got stuck there because I worked on a line that wrapped cheese in shrink wrap and sealed it on a flat iron.

Now mind you, this drove me nuts and made those long work days excruciating because the whole song would not play in my head.  It was the chorus….”Raaaaaaaaper, Rapper Rap, They Call Him The Rapper…” 

3. Una Paloma Blanca-George Baker Selection (1975)

Another song from my childhood. This is one of those songs that had different people recording different versions, but the George Baker Selection version is the one I remember the most, mostly because of the background singers and their Dutch accents.

 

4. Crazy Horses-The Osmonds (1974)

Long after the 1970s faded into history, the chorus of this song would get stuck in my head and it drove me nuts. When I found this video on You Tube, the demon was exorcised. I had a vague recollection of this song from both hearing it on the radio and from the brother’s performance of this on the Donny & Marie show.

I love the pimp-tastic 1970s outfits and the textbook display of “white people dancing”. 😉

In case you were wondering, “crazy horses” refers to automobiles.

 

5. Beans in My Ears-Serendipity Singers (1963)

I have a K-Tel compilation album called Dumb Ditties to thank for this song getting stuck in my head. I didn’t have the album but I remember the commercial to this day. Here it is, if you’re curious or need to jog your memory.

After watching this, you can understand why that song got stuck in my head. There were others from this commercial that also got stuck in my head.


Do you agree with my five picks? Disagree? How would your list look? Let me know in the comments. (Don’t post links to You Tube videos or WordPress will think you are spam and either chuck the comment or throw it over to moderation.) If you have a blog and want to play along, post your list of summer songs on your blog and leave a link to the post in the comments.

There is a catch: you have to explain why you chose that song. Yep.

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