Dear Prince,

It’s been a year since you transitioned. I hope you’re settling in nicely. Do you know what you’ll do next? Well, its’ probably too early for that. You made such an indelible mark on the world, a bit of rest is good.prince smiling

Thank you, Prince, for the half-century of music, boldness, style, craftsmanship, and a side-eye that melts titanium.

Thank you for the incredible catalog of published work. I’ve been listening to it consistently for the past year, but I still haven’t gotten through the whole thing. I’ll listen to a song—one I’ve Prince spillitheard a hundred times—then a nuance in the lyrics, vocals or composition will come to the fore, changing the entire experience.

 

So now I listen with fresh ears–every time

You once said that yoprince superbowlu are Music. That’s certainly true, but I’d add Creativity to that as well.  Your music is as instructive as it is evocative. I marvel at the breadth of your skill: lyricist, composer, arranger, singer, musician10, producer, conductor, studio master. Not to mention your unwavering discipline and commitment to your craft; writing a song every day and delivering flawless performances in any condition, from driving rain to agonizing pain.

You were my first writing instructor when I was 14 and still my most trusted advisor as I get back to my writing roots. I am eternally grateful.

If the people picking over your bones had any sense, they would turn Paisley Park into a School of prince guitarCreative Arts or at least offer a summer fellowship program for talented musicians.  You did say you always wanted to teach and you work with some of the finest musicians in the world so there’re plenty of teachersAnd honestly, wouldn’t that be better than having a bunch of strangers traipsing through your private home?

BTW, I love the thing with the will.  The Folks are trying to figure out how to ‘exploit’ your assets and create ‘profit centers’ regardless of what how you feel. They’re fighting over ‘rights’ and ‘royalties, ‘ but your music is a gift to the world.

They can say they ‘own’ it but, no one can own the Spirit.  

The world is purple in your honor today. I hope you make it to a few of the parties, especially in Minneapolis. I wish I were there tonight.

Prince side eyeI’m going to a Prince-themed Karaoke Night here in Memphis; it’ll just be regular folks singing your songs.  Try not to slay us all with your celestial side-eye when hit the wrong notes.  It’s all love.

be free

Eryka

Hey Y’all,

We lost Charlie Murphy today.  Leukemia. He left a legacy of unfettered humor, candid acting, and brilliant insight into real shit. His greatest gifts are the phrase “habitual line-stepper” and one of the best Prince stories on the planet.  Rest In Power Charlie.

But it is interesting that Prince transitioned on April 21, 2016, at the age of 57 and Charlie Murphy made his transition on April 12, 2017, at age 57.  More basketball and pancakes?  I certainly hope so.

be free

Eryka

Hey Y’all,

Here is a link to the story, When Prince was My Girlfriend, I told at Spillit: Lost & Found on July 8, 2016, at Amurica. Spillit is a live storytelling event; kinda like The Moth, only Southern.

My story starts at the 18-minute mark. Prince has been so influential in my life that I took his constant presence for granted. His death hit me particularly hard.  I was rather nervous when I started, but it really gets interesting about age 14.

I’ll be telling another story at Spillit: Dear Diary on Thursday, April 27th at 7 p.m.  No, it won’t be about Prince. I hope to see you there.

be free.

Eryka

On the way home from an appointment in Cordova yesterday, I drove past the back paddocks of Shelby Park Farms. They were filled with the most beautiful horses. It was a real community of horses with family groups and ponies—not the usual clutch of shell-shocked animals standing alone with only flies for company.  The color spectrum was fantastic: black walnut, roasted chestnut, fudge brownie, sweet caramel, buttercream, and champagne. Some were solid shades others had swirls, patches, spots, and dappling.

The ponies and adolescents nipped and played with each other in the recent patches of mud, splashing each other in the aftermath of the spontaneous spring storm. The light breeze danced in their hair as they trotted passed small groups of adults nibbling on sweet grasses.

I haven’t seen so many horses in one place in more than ten years.  I pulled into the park with the zeal only nature stirs in me.  I got out of the car with a bag of the Ambrosia apples, my absolute favorite apple.

The Ambrosia is a natural hybrid born in an orchard in British Columbia.

They were on sale for $1.99 a pound, so I bought four. But I couldn’t keep them to myself.  I put them on the ground and sliced them into chunks with the windshield scraper in my car.

Standing at the barbed-wire fence feeding the horses all my cares fell away: the headaches, financial pressures, writing insecurities, all of it.  Gone. Some of them ate more than others. There was plenty of nipping and horsey side-eye. Horses aren’t very big on sharing—or waiting.

It reminded me of grocery shopping when my family lived in Midland, Texas.  Back then, I’d go to the store and return about three hours later. I would legit spend two hours in the grocery store, but that last hour I’d spend at the fences feeding the neighbors horses the carrots or apples I’d bought just for them. My family could never understand what took me so long. Not sure if I ever told them, but I was feeding the horses. I only managed a few shots. The last one is my favorite.  Pictures!

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be free

Eryka

Original Meaning:  Broken bench

In 16th century Italy when a merchant could not pay their debts, the bailiffs would publicly destroy the merchant’s bench so he could not do business any longer. It was considered financial and social death.

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Prince died Thursday.  I thought it was a silly rumor at first, but when the Associated Press confirmed it well, you have to believe it then, right?  Aside from the standard tears, shock, and disbelief, I felt like I had swallowed a millstone.  I slept most of the day.  Something was off. I just couldn’t deal.

The next morning, I threw up that millstone along with decades of memories, expectations, disappointment and shame.  Prince was more than a role model; he was the touchstone for my creative life.

I first encountered Prince in 1984, with the release of Purple Rain.  My brother and I went to see it at the shiny new mall in Aurora, Colorado. I’d heard his music before, but Purple Rain was…everything.

You see, I was an *unusual child* as they say.  Different.  I was highly creative, my clothes never looked right, I understood things I shouldn’t have, talked to plants and animals, and I wrote strange stories that worried the adults on more than a few occasions.  These were aspects of my personality – not a phase or anything.  It was just who I was.

I first felt the weight of conformity in 1984 as I began my journey into womanhood at the age of 12.  It was now time to grow up and act right.  I had been indulged long enough. I didn’t understand it back then, but in hindsight, being a Black girl in America was challenging enough; adding oddness to the mix seemed dangerous.

But in that darkened theater in Colorado, when I saw Prince rolled up to First Avenue on that motorcycle, I saw possibilities that gave conformity the middle finger.

Let’s examine that more carefully:  a Black man wearing makeup, high-heeled boots, a fabulous press & curl, a silk suit and ruffled shirt pulls up to a nightclub on a purple motorcycle in 1984.

What?!?  He’s not supposed to do that.  That isn’t what boys do.  I was learning the grown-up rules, and THIS went against damn near all of them!

As the movie progressed, I saw people wearing underwear in public.  They had on masks, furs, and psychedelic makeup but more importantly, they were all making incredible music.

Then there was the puppet. Nestled in its velvet purple cone, popping up when Prince needed a confidant. What, he talked to non-people too?!?  I can’t tell you how badly I wanted that puppet!! Magic did exist in the world, and that purple cone was the fount from which it poured.

If he didn’t have to follow the *supposed-to-be,* grown-up rules, then why did I? It gave me hope that there was a place in this world for someone like me after all. Prince MADE his own rules and transformed the world in the process.  He didn’t grind down his uniqueness to make others comfortable.  He provided them with an opportunity to examine their discomfort and grow from it.

But let’s imagine for a moment that Prince followed the rules.  Let’s say he listened to the adults in his life in his early years, gave up his music, purple brocade jacket with stylish silver buttons, and makeup.  Put on a pair of Dockers and a Polo shirt and worked in an office until it sucked the soul from his marrow.  Where would we be now?  Thirty-seven years of music, cultural influence and humanitarianism traded for a regular paycheck and benefits.

Yesterday, I realized that I hadn’t followed the blueprint. But I am trading my millstone for a touchstone. Prince.

 

His legacy will shape artists and our culture for years to come.

be free.

Eryka

 

Hey,

Here are some pictures I took over the last few days. I was struck by the complex beauty of rusting objects. Like life, beauty is everywhere; even in the discarded and neglected.

Be free.

Freeheart