What Prince’s Music Taught Us

It has been a week since we lost Prince. I never thought I would ever write that sentence. It is not because of some unrealistic belief that he was not human. It is because I never stopped to process fully what life might be like without him on the planet.


Source: Instagram

He was my favorite artist of all time. He still is, even in death. I have been a fan since I was seven years old, and that was at the start of his career. As a child I loved his artistic expression reflected in his singing, dancing, instrumentation, fashion sense, word usage…everything.

Everything about him mesmerized me.

At a time when some of my friends’ parents banned Prince’s albums from their houses, my parents were forward thinking enough to allow us to listen to them. My folks believe in explaining things to children. My parents did a great job regarding what was and was not acceptable for us to say or do as their children.

My mom sat down with me at eight years old and told me all about sex, how babies were created and born, etc. I appreciate the fact that she told me early in life. It allowed me to get the information from her and to not be misinformed or taken advantage of all because of not knowing what constitutes sex. I believe that initial talk created a pretty open relationship between us.

The conversations about sex have continued. Some of these conversations ensue after listening to a Prince song. Of course, the talks have become more mature in nature as I have matured. We discuss a plethora of topics including Menopause and how that affects sex. My mom is one of the few people who understands that there is a sexual spectrum. Some of our conversations have included my father. I appreciate having a male perspective on a lot of this, especially as an adult navigating through relationships with men. I know of no other 67 and 68 year old people who realize all that they do. So I have erudite and cool parents.

Even more amazing is I had an erudite and cool maternal grandmother. She had to grow a little into that coolness.  My maternal grandmother would have been 100. We lost her about 12 years ago. I could tell her anything, and I felt even more free to do so with her than my mother. I state this to show how open and highly evolved my grandmother was, and she was a Pastor’s wife.

When Prince debuted his video for “When Doves Cry” on a show called “Friday Night Videos” my grandmother was watching with me. However, when he stood up in the bathtub she turned the television off. She said, “You are not going to watch this.” Of course I had a fit over that. I was experiencing censorship at age 13.

When my mom came home from work my grandmother said they had to talk. She told my mom that I didn’t need to watch Prince slithering across the floor naked (how did she know what he did, lol). They talked about how the video didn’t show his private parts. My grandmother gave her opinion and my mother listened. The next weekend I was at my paternal grandmother’s house and watched the video with her. I thought I was getting away with something, but knowing my family, this was an orchestrated event by my grandparents and parents all reaching a consensus regarding my viewing the video. Yes, the village raised my brother and I. My mother took me to see the movie “Purple Rain” within the same month. I instantly became more popular at school.

After that my maternal grandmother would watch virtually anything with me. She tried to figure out why Prince seldom wore real pants when he performed, why Madonna was singing “Like a Virgin” in lingerie, why Tina Turner performed scantly clad in her 40s, why the guys in all of the “hair” bands wore makeup and, a few years later, why Michael Jackson incorporated a crotch grab into his dance routines.

I got through the highly sexualized 1980s just fine. Listening to the music of my generation didn’t demoralize me, make me promiscuous, make me do drugs or turn me into a social disgrace. I enjoyed this music and grew up with it while living in the Bible Belt. I was a straight A student, debutante and virgin who worshipped and worked faithfully in my church, all while growing up with this music.

Every generation has music about sex. The music Generation X grew up with is no different.

If anything, listening to Prince’s music made me even more of a spiritual person. Years ago I was in a bookstore and I saw a book on a table that stopped me in my tracks. It has a title that summed up what a lot of Prince’s music meant to me: Sex God by Rob Bell. I bought it and read it in less than a day. This was way before Bell was on OWN. The message of the book is simply that God is Sex and Sex is God. This is why we must be careful with how we have sex in our lives. We ought not to misuse and to mistreat sex. Bell gives all kinds of examples and stories both Biblical and from Pop Culture that, in my mind, back up this premise…this belief.

The Bible was my first connection that Sex is God. Prince’s music was my second connection. Some songs reflect our primal instincts when it comes to sex. The catalogue that we the public have heard, to me, is a reflection of the struggle we have with our animalistic flesh nature interfering with this form of worship (yes, I believe in what Beyoncé sings in “Lemonade”, the visual album). I believe marital sex is a form of worship and that our Father is in the midst, because God is Sex, because the Bible reveals this. Prince, Rob Bell, Beyoncé…are all reminding us of what we already, innately, know.

I think this is why people get uncomfortable with sexualized, yet unpornographic material, with talking about sex with their lovers, their parents, their friends, even their children…even just for informational purposes.

When I see a person with discomfort about the topic of sex I ask him/her about his/her belief system. I have always witnessed a disconnection in each area when this is discussed with the individual.

In my opinion Prince’s music reflects that one can not be disconnected sexually without being disconnected spiritually. Spiritually connected people are sexually connected people, free in their souls and know no image discomfort with their bodies.

As a fat woman who has struggled with body dysmorphia and poor self image I realize what my true underlying struggle was: fully embracing the love of God to the point of fully loving myself, made in His image. Prince’s music was a part of my self acceptance. Like most of his female fans I believed him when he sang, “Could you be the most beautiful girl in the world…” I believed in the possibility of finding beauty in my own “flaws,” society’s word for having an imperfect body.

Furthermore, much of Prince’s work is a reflection of a journey we all take: what is sex, what is sensuality, and what is life like if we are unsure of the meaning and the significance of that.

Prince had a lot of references to God in his work but when he performed “The Christ” on New Year’s Eve 1999 (found on the “Rave to the Year 2000” DVD), my mom looked at me and said, “Prince has found the Lord.”

To quote a line from Forest Gump, “I didn’t know He was lost.”

I think Prince had a knowledge of Christ and the Father well before that time and there are many references before that time in his work. All of his work afterwards really reflects that. For instance my favorite Prince album is “The Rainbow Children.” Some critics refer to it as the “Jehovah Witness album” since Prince was one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. I am not of that church and view it more as a Metaphysical and Christian album. The title in and of itself is Metaphysical rhetoric. For those who know about Indigos, Rainbow Children, the 3rd eye (Pineal Gland) and so forth, you will understand why I write that. Another thing his music did is reflected that Metaphysical awareness can coincide with any religion…the two are not mutually exclusive.

Prince was an erudite man “with exquisite tastes” who challenged his fans musically by making spiritual, sexual, political, historical, sociocultural commentary and connections with his music.

L.A. Reid made a comment on television that I had already made to friends since Prince’s passing. In “Let’s Go Crazy” Prince sang “I’m not going to let the elevator break us down…” Years ago Prince stated in an interview that the elevator is a metaphor for the enemy. L.A. Reid talked about the irony of his dying in an elevator.

To that I write this: the elevator didn’t break him down. The enemy did not win. From my viewpoint, my belief, his passing is a last metaphor given to us by the Father through Him. The enemy may have you surrounded and it may appear, to our human eyes that the doors are closed. However, this metaphor, is a reminder that the Father opens an Heavenly door that our spiritual eyes can see, and takes us on to be with Him when it is our time, even if surrounded by the enemy. While we all wonder what caused Prince’s death, I believe when that time comes for each of us to die that transcendence is truly affirmation that our 3rd eye is no longer blind. R.I.P. Prince.