By the Way

I was dreaming when I wrote this because Prince can't be dead


Jones Park in Gulfport is bathed in a sea of purple as a memorial to Prince, who died Thursday at 57.
Jones Park in Gulfport is bathed in a sea of purple as a memorial to Prince, who died Thursday at 57.

As famous last words go, “it seemed like a good idea at the time.”

The “it’ was a Spider-Man costume and the “time” was the Prince concert in Mobile on Halloween 1997.

“It’s Halloween -- everybody will be in costumes,” I said to my friend Terry, although it didn’t take much to convince him to wear Darth Vader costume, complete with an electronic red light saber.

And off we went to the Mobile Civic Center, Spider-Man and Darth Vader, the best of friends, to see Prince.

But of course no one else was wearing a costume.

Although the show was about 20 years ago, I remember parts of it like it was yesterday. I don’t remember if or what I ate for breakfast yesterday, so I’m fine with the memories of the show I can still recall.

Some of my highlights were Prince playing “Flashlight” by Parliament, a solo rendering of “When You Were Mine” and the final number, “1999.”

I can also still hear Prince playing a scorching version of “Purple Rain” and see Terry waving his light saber in the air like it was a large-than-life lighter. So, yeah, I’m glad we wore the costumes.

I will never forget hearing Prince, who wrote so many amazing songs, do a version of Joan Osborne’s “What if God Was One of Us.” It has stuck with me for all of these years.

Thursday, we found that Prince, who many of us considered an immortal superstar, was indeed like one of us when he died at age 57 near Minneapolis.

My colleague Patrick Magee on Thursday told me Prince was dead. I kept waiting for what seemed like a lifetime for him to finish it with “Prince...Charles,” but it didn’t happen.

Prince, the iconic musician and songwriter who had transcended things black, white, male and female, had died.

I wasn’t sure what to do next. I wanted to reach out to my friend Rene Lopez, a musician in New York, who is a huge Prince fan, but I knew he would be reeling from the news. I thought about texting Jennifer Wilemon, who adored Prince, but I knew she would be at work.

Inside I was heartbroken. I didn’t know Prince personally and that doesn’t matter. His music helped shaped large parts of my life. Every time a musician that meant something to me dies, a part of me dies, too. I’ll never be 14 again, listening to the “Purple Rain” album repeatedly, wearing a trench coat and a studded wrist bracelet.

I get it; that part of my life is gone.

Yes, we learned Prince was just like one us. This became very apparent as I read the sheriff's report about his death. It painted a vivid picture of Prince unresponsive in an elevator and first responders were unable to revive him. They could not save him. He was a mortal just like the rest of us.

To honor his life, I’ve attached a video of Rene singing “The Cross,” a gospel number from the “Sign O The Times album.” If it doesn’t make you shed a tear, nothing will.

In the end, it’s a shame his parents didn’t name him King.

Nothing Compares 2 U.

Jeff Clark is a staff writer for the Sun Herald. His favorite Prince album is “Controversy.”