Friday, April 22, 2016

what once was and what will never be again


and so here we are once more. this year is hungry, look you see. it hungers for circles to be formed, for lines to be drawn. this year wants us to know there's no going back. and i don't know if that's what we are sad for, what we lament, but i am quietly confident that this is what makes me sad.

my generation is, weirdly, facing something which our parents haven't yet had to do. we're being confronted with the death of our idols, those lone figures who stood so high they cast a formidable shadow right across our formative years. i mean, sure, certain legends of the 60s have passed away, but the legacy always remains. we have, for instance, virtually all of The Stones alive, 50% of The Beatles and 50% of The Who, along with The Kinks and many others. but just as there was only one Bowie for us to lose, so too was there only one Prince.

the provenance of the above portrait of Prince? June 1989. it's done in pen on a white shirt. i know this as it is my white shirt; it is the one i wore on the last day of what was then Comprehensive school, and it is the one that everyone who was of a mind to do so wrote on.

the artist? Steven Legget. as the story of Prince is not mine to tell, i would imagine this blog post shall mostly be a take of Steven Legget, which is quite handy as i am led to believe that there are people out there who quite like it when he features here. yes, i know, it's strange that there are people out there who quite like this blog, but there you go.

indeed, Steven Legget is the handsome, decent one stood up at the back. surely this picture has been on this blog before, but here it is once more. and yes, probably, that is likely to be the shirt i have on there which has been adorned by the picture of Prince, along with several accusations involving me and sheep.

my first encounter with Prince was probably the film Risky Business, as the song DMSR featured on the soundtrack. after that it was probably the time he was on the Brit Awards (or similar), and the only reason i remember that was because Holly Johnson of Frankie Goes To Hollywood (as in, the Holly Johnson) introduced him with a reference to wishing to have sexual relations with him. whenever i am asked, though, and weirdly i've been asked more than you might think, i just say it was Steven Legget that introduced me to him. in a sense he did, as it was only through him that i really came to discover the music.

it kind of baffles me as to why Steven ever latched on to me as a friend. i'm glad that he did, though, although he's probably baffled as to why too. probably a shared sense of passions that were outside of the mainstream, and a will to stick with and follow what you love no matter what the trends were. a shared sense of humour too, certainly.

an abiding memory was a summer - for all abiding memories have a summer background - in which Steven went everywhere with an armful of Prince records. again, this is not my story to tell, but from what i remember a debt which was owed to an elder sibling of his was paid for in Prince records. these were records Steven decided to have a spin of, fell in love with, and subsequently adopted. and so that summer it was to be that everywhere he went, every friend or house visited, was somewhere to take Prince records and play them for the people.

this is the main display window of HMV today. this was taken at lunchtime. i went along to see what sort of tribute or arrangement they had made for Prince.

they hadn't. it's still all Star Wars in the window, and inside they were not even playing any Prince music. a reason for this? we shall perhaps get to this later.

a bit of video to break things up? sure, why not. one of my all time favourite Prince songs of all time is Raspberry Beret. i love the music as it's just supremely feel good. i love the lyrics because they are all looking back and reflecting on happier times. i am pretty sure that Guns N Roses stole the concept of both the music and the lyrics off of this for Sweet Child O Mine.

what i love most about that bit of video is the synchronized movements. that's some awesome choreography, that is, in the days before you could just "fix" things like the timing of people moving with a computer. we used to joke that all of them made sure that best they move and dance as Prince instructed or Prince would beat them. on a serious note, it just, to me, creates this wonderful sense of belonging, of being a part of something.

that's been a big draw on most if not all of the musicians i have loved over the years, probably. that sense they give me of not being quite alone. bands that were not in the limelight all of the time, but ones which attracted like minded people who were, by and large, pretty isolar, but yet felt not as isolated as they should because they knew they connected with music that others did too. examples? Prince, for certain, along with a Stone Roses, a Bowie, a Frankie Goes To Hollywood, a Talking Heads, Smiths too. bands and artists that at one stage were the biggest thing in the world, but retained a smattering of fans in the leaner times.

some people have a bizarre idea that i am a collector because i happen to buy all the stuff that my favourite artists release. that's flattering, but it just makes me a dedicated fan. a collector in the purest sense is Steven Legget. back in a time when there was no internet and no easy way to obtain rare or unreleased stuff, he trawled record fairs, adverts in music newspapers and anywhere he could think of to get his hands on rare Prince stuff. he paid a small fortune for a bootleg of the infamous Black Album bootleg, and a similar hefty amount of coins of money for a really badly dubbed VHS of various TV appearances Prince had made. he also obtained tape after tape after tape of unreleased recordings.

he shared it all with me and any other friend interested, of course. it was cool. i remember one bootleg in particular was awesome. it was called There Are Others Here With Us, and it was this really spooky thing, like a ghost house of a song. also, we got to hear Prince do Nothing Compares 2 U long before Sinead O'Connor eventually made it famous.

i eventually, fleetingly, ended up on other sides of the world to where Steven Legget was. for the most part, though, i was able to attract friends who were as appreciative of Prince as i had come to be. there was Shaun for a start. Olivia too, Zizandi perhaps. and no doubt many others who, i am so very sorry to say, the names of have escaped me. quite recently i had the distinct honour of making friends with the first person i ever met who was probably an even bigger fan that Steven was; yes Louise if you're reading that's you, and my heart goes out to you.

the love of Prince extended through my family some, as my dear brother has reminded me that my Lovesexy lp was the first one that he ever took and made a tape of without me knowing he had "borrowed" one of my prized records. i think my VHS of the Lovesexy tour, broadcast from Paris, was also one of the few video tapes that he didn't elect to record over with something.

but, you know, however dear anyone else was or was not to me, for me Prince was always, always, always about listening to Steven Legget's somehow obtained collection of his records, and of course buying whatever new releases came along and discovering them with him.

HMV are, i assumed, not presently arsed about celebrating or paying tribute to Prince right now as, unlike as was the case with Bowie, they are not sat with stock of his records to offer to sell to the kids. as far as i could work out they only had a copy of Purple Rain to offer for sale.

perhaps - maybe - next week they will stock up and have a wider selection of his recordings at the ready for those who wish to buy something to remember him by. strangely, now that i think on, Purple Rain was probably one of the first non-Frankie Goes To Hollywood CDs i bought, back in 1987 when recent records started to surface on the new format. i pikced up 1999 too, a strange version that has DMSR omitted so as to fit the whole else rest of the double album on one disc.

my favourite all time Prince record of all time? hard to say. Raspberry Beret is a contender, for sure, but make no mistake, the Sign O The Times album is where greatness resides. off that record, i always loved I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man - the stark, naked pleading honesty of the lyric delivery and the awesome guitar. also, The Cross. the latter is, i suppose, the song that taught me it was ok to believe in whatever i in my heart wanted to believe in with no fear or concern for any consequence of that.

but that early stuff of his, man. the raw sex, the ultra funk, and the amazing bass. yeah, go on then, in Camcorder mode, let's have a bit of Dirty Mind.

the passing of Price is, to me, sad because it puts the full stop firmly at the end of memories. they are memories which were pretty much closed anyway, you know, what with them being 20 or so years ago for the most part. there was always a sense of not so much unfinished to them as there was open ended, as if those days could once again be lived, revelled in perhaps.

i will, as ever, leave it to that Twerker thing, and other places on the internet, for platitudes and praise for Prince, declaring him the greatest ever, how we will never see his likes again, how his passing is the worst thing to ever happen to someone, etc. i'm just a simple fan very grateful for the soundtrack he gave to some wonderful memories i have.

those who create our memories, all who add an aspect, they come and they go. sometimes for a while, sometimes forever. the memory, however, remains always, so long as we do.

may u live 2 see the dawn

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