There was an unfortunate fundamentalist bent to our household when I was coming up – typical 80’s occult paranoia stuff. The folks meant well, but it could be challenging in pursuits in pop cultural literacy for sure. I remember getting blasted by my dad once for reading the Bible while listening to Purple Rain on headphones. “They cancel each other out!” he insisted. He was strident. Theatrics and carnality were the Devil’s realm, after all. He was the same age I am now. Dad has since become more broad-minded, as has our collective conscience, thankfully – and it’s funny and quaint looking back. It’s sad, too. Not because Prince is gone, rather because if there was anything that could have made young me more sure of a benevolent God in the Universe, it would have been the preachers and teachers affirming the music of Prince and others as all part of One glorious Creation, rather than somehow separate and outside. It would have been one Sunday school True Believer with all the finger-wagging certitude challenging me to listen to the guitar break in “Let’s Go Crazy” or the opening run of “When Doves Cry” and declare there’s not a fucking God in Heaven. Sold. All would have been aligned. Instead with the false divisions. The kinds it takes a lifetime to reconcile.
We do the best we can and I forgive them. Rest In Peace, Prince. Your music is a celebration, a lament, a prayer, a thing of Goodness and Beauty. Maybe it isn’t so much that artists like Prince cancel out our piousness, but rather balance it. Thank God for that.