Michael Jackson died on my 35th birthday.
I had just become a father, and was sloughing through it with my then partner and ‘baby mamma,’ and was all set to celebrate the milestone of becoming a true grown ass man, and then the news broke.
I was…horribly hurt by it. Not just that “Happy Birthday! The King of Pop is dead!” but that we had lost a true artist of song, dance and general entertainment. But because it was as if I’d lost a friend.
I spent a week playing Off the Wall over and over…
I had been dancing my ass off for 4 hours and was taking a break by watching a bunch of drag queens perform “Dragspell” on the makeshift stage in a club up behind Dodger Stadium. The clock had just spun past 1 am or so: Easter Sunday, 2001.
The Matron of Ceremonies stopped the party, grabbed the mike and announced that she had just gotten a call from a close friend that Joey Ramone had died in New York. We wouldn’t find out for hours that this was pre-mature by about twelve hours, but the crowd, drunk sweaty, and way too worked up, kind of lost it for a moment.
The DJ played I Wanna Be Sedated, and it was the happiest, friendliest mosh pit I’d ever been in.
I honestly don’t recall where I was when Kurt Cobain was found…I think someone came into the college dining hall, dropped the news flatly, and then a bunch of us kinda wandered around humming All Apologies.
I was sitting in front of the computer checking my twitter feed when I saw that David Bowie had left us–almost on cue–after celebrating his birthday and leaving a song and an album to say goodbye with.
Sometime, for no really good reason, I purchased a biography/career examination about Prince titled I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became An Icon. It was a solid piece by a journalist who’d been invited into Prince’s world on several occasions. It talked about his love of music, his childhood, his life, his faith and how that all plays into his music.
It was a fascinating read, full of insight and hypothesis that make listening to Prince even more powerful.
One of the more interesting things posits that because of how his childhood was, how his relationships were, Prince came to never say goodbye.
The author, MSNBC commentator and pop culture critic, Touré tells a story of a time he visited Prince at Paisley Park.
After spending a couple of hours chatting and getting owned at basket ball by Prince, the Purple one excused himself to leave the room. Touré waited patiently, albeit uncomfortably; after almost an hour, one of Prince’s people came out and spoke to him–In my words:
“Hi, that’s it. It’s time to go.”
“Prince is done with the visit; he’s not coming back.”
“He just got up! Why didn’t he say goodbye?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t do that…”
Prince’s death today caught me off guard–caught a lot of people off guard, and for a bit there today, I think I felt like Touré probably did, waiting for the joke to finish, or The Artist to come back out.
Yeah, he doesn’t do that…
Prince left us the way that any good musician and entertainer should: He left us with enough powerful memories to stick with us, enough songs to keep us entertained for years to come, and he left the stage with us wanting more.
When you do that, do you really need to say goodbye?