Today would have been Prince’s 58th birthday, though he didn’t believe in celebrating them—or even counting time, for that matter. As the world continues to mourn his death, I cannot help but remember the start of my relationship with his music and the effect it had on me as a writer.
In the sixth grade, I had just two hours to myself after school each day before my parents would come home—just enough time to pull the only Prince CD they owned from the living room cabinet (The Hits 2), listen to it in its entirety from “Controversy” to “Purple Rain” and put it back without them suspecting a thing.
This was a common scene for the ’80s, I’m sure—but for me, this was 2007. Earlier that year, while the rest of the world basked in nostalgia watching Prince’s Super Bowl performance, I found myself transfixed by a musician for the first time.
As I started navigating the hormone-rushes of middle and high school, I expected the acne and increased self-consciousness. The side effect I didn’t count on was my growing need to write, constantly. Suddenly, God, love and sex were all things I was expected to have an opinion about.
That’s where Prince came in. As I explored his catalog, I noticed he sang about each of these topics candidly, unabashedly and yes, sometimes controversially—but never apologetically, and in a way that I found more respectful and downright fun than the top 40 artists on the radio. With Prince’s God is great, love is great and hey—sex is great, too mentality, he was the artist that made sense of these tough topics for me, encouraging me to tackle them in my own work.
When I found out Prince had passed away, I sat at my desk, numb. Then I started to write, unafraid to meet the page with honesty and vulnerability.
That, I owe to Prince.
Happy birthday, friend.