The shittiest part of growing older is saying goodbye to your idols. Back in 2009, my heart was shattered irreparably when Michael Jackson passed away, but time rolled on and the pain started to disperse. “There are still amazing artists like Prince and David Bowie,” I would tell myself. “The world isn’t all bad, and the magic is still thriving.” Then came January. When the news broke about Bowie’s passing, I was heartbroken like everyone else. The man was truly a unique and creative visionary. With a career that spanned so many decades, each person had their own special Bowie moment, the thing that flashed in their minds when they heard the news that he was gone. For me, it was watching Labyrinth as a kid and never being able to tear my eyes away from the tv whenever the Goblin King was onscreen.
Today, my heart took another massive hit when news broke that Prince had passed away. Like many people in my generation, his music had been practically sewn into my DNA since birth. A home movie of my very first Christmas features my parents dancing and lip syncing to tracks off Purple Rain while infant Alexis watches from a bassinet. One of the coolest moments of my life was being able to see Prince live in Washington, D.C. when he was touring to support his Musicology album. He blew me away with a simple stage setup—no giant pyrotechnics or hordes of dancers—and made the entire MCI Center feel what it was like to witness true talent. When Michael Jackson passed away, I remember telling myself, “You never got the opportunity to see Michael perform, but at least you got the chance to see Prince.”
Perhaps foolishly, I figured I’d probably get another chance to see him again. He would always be there, always making new music and doing the kind of bold, creative things that make people legends. Like with Michael Jackson and David Bowie, I couldn’t even conceive of a world where the was no Prince. He’s engrained in the cultural backbone of generations, and people like that never truly die.
So today, I’m sitting at my computer listening to Purple Rain over and over again and remembering the legendary entertainer who will always be a part of our collective hearts. There is nobody like Prince, and there never will be. Artists like that only come around once in a lifetime. We can’t change it. We can’t go back. We can only love them while they’re here, and appreciate them when they’re gone.