What Prince Taught Me

The acclaimed author of the book “Purple Bananas: How Prince Saved Me and Other Selections from the Soundtrack 2 My Life” remembers the Purple One five years after his untimely passing

Prince ’86 (Art: Ron Hart)

How much did Prince’s death affect me? Enough to make me write a book.

I went through something akin to a mental breakdown following Prince’s death in April, 2016. The death affected every aspect of my life, from my social life (I was prone to crying jags for weeks at a time, sometimes at the mere thought of Prince) to my sex life (I actually experienced my first bout of impotence about a week after Prince died).

I wrote my book as a way to exorcise the pain I felt, which was unlike any other loss I’ve ever experienced. Losing Prince was like losing my best friend. And I had never even met the man.

But I’d been in the same building as him and that was just as good. I saw him perform a total of five times and it kills me that my daughter will only get to see him perform on YouTube and blu-Ray. She’ll never know the thrill of her first Prince concert, dancing her little heart out to Daddy’s favorite singer.

For all I know, maybe it’s best I never met Prince. I’d heard many stories about him being aloof and kind of a prick. But I would’ve loved to have gotten the chance to tell him, to his face, how his music saved a shy, scared-to-death little boy with undiagnosed autism. I once put down a filet knife from my wrist—I always was a tad melodramatic—after playing Prince’s song “Anna Stesia,” from his underrated Lovesexy. Prince’s song “Little Red Corvette” guided me through my first ever makeout session with a girl. “But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right…” Yes, it does, Prince. And I thank you for it.

 

AUDIO: Prince “Anna Stesia” (Live from One Nite Alone…Live!)

I stuck by Prince all these years, even during the symbol years in the ‘90s where it was seriously uncool to admit you were a Prince fan. I skipped a class in college to go buy The Gold Experience. The first album I ever made love to was disc II of Emancipation. And I’ll totally throw down with anyone who suggests that Chaos and Disorder was not the Dirty Mind of the ‘90s.

Prince taught me the importance of being your own person. Wear the fabulous, garish clothes that scream of being a human peacock. Do your hair up nice each day, even on your days off. Pay particular attention to your personal grooming and always present yourself as “clean.” That’s what Prince said to Oprah in ’96 when she asked him “Are you always this pretty? Even on a normal day?” Prince’s on the money response: “On a normal day, I’m clean!”

Jason Webber’s Purple Bananas is in fine bookstores now (Photo: Goodreads)

More importantly, Prince taught me about the value of hard work. All that great music that he gave didn’t just come from nowhere. He created it all. Every last note. The guy was a workaholic for the same reason I am: You want to satisfy a creative itch that can never really be scratched. Work yourself to death in the name of creating art—you’ll never regret it.

The man has been gone five years and I’m still mourning him. I think we all are. It’s just that genius doesn’t come along that often. As much as I love some of the music that’s being played now—I predict Billie Eilish will still be making damn good music in 20 years—I just can’t help but cry when I think—REALLY think—about the fact that Prince is gone.

But I’ll never stop looking for that purple banana. Even if they DO put me in the truck. Thanks to Prince, we’ll always have a reason to go crazy. I miss you, Mr. Nelson. And I love you. Thank U 4 sharing Ur gifts.

 

 

 

 

 

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Jason Webber

Jason Webber is the author of the critically acclaimed book Purple Bananas: How Prince Saved Me and Other Selections from the Soundtrack 2 My Life.

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