All good things, they say, never last

*In the early hours of March 9th 1995, I found myself at the London Astoria nightclub, within arm's reach of my favourite musician, Prince, who was performing an 'after show' gig. We'd already enjoyed an amazing set-list at Wembly Arena, but this was something else! Seriously, I'd never experienced anything like it before, and haven't since. After the main concert had ended, I'd been in a hurry to make the journey home, but my boyfriend was a hardcore Prince fan (he collected every 7" and 12" vinyl plus bootlegs and CDs in every possible format and cover, and had educated me in 'old-school Prince' - the early albums like Prince, For You and Dirty Mind). He knew to wait until the venue was almost empty... in case of an announcement. When one came, we hotfooted it into London and used the last of our combined pennies getting into the club where we spent the next few hours dancing to music that was to appear later on the Gold Experience). We eventually caught the last Night Bus, arriving home at almost 6 am, completely exhausted. It was probably the most incredible night morning of my life. 
When I heard the news of Prince's death on Thursday, this was just one of many memories that came flooding back. I thought back to my pre-teen friend who had her hair cut and drew a moustache on her lip with black marker pen (as on the Purple Rain album), and then couldn't get it off - she had a 'shadow' for weeks. I recalled getting ready to go to school discos in the late 80s (back-combed hair, shoulder-pads, listening to songs from LoveSexy, which I'm pretty sure we'd secretly recorded from the radio, or maybe someone's older sibling) and sitting in my bedroom with another friend a few years later as we played Diamonds and Pearls over-and-over while making plans. In July 1992, after my A-levels, I travelled to Paris to see him. My Uncle and Aunty came too. Just a few years later my uncle died and memories of that Paris trip seemed even more special. 

I thought of my first term at Uni - my first time away from home. While the girls in my halls of residence were wailing along to Whitney Houston's Bodyguard, for me it was all about the unpronounceable symbol album on my 'Discman' CD player (still quite high-tech in 1992). And so it went on... each album becoming inextricably linked with a different stage in my life. Graduation (The Gold Experience). My first apartment (Emancipation). Walking to the train and commuting to work (Crystal Ball/Truth). Millennium Eve (1999, obviously). Inviting friends around for dinner when I became a home-owner (Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic). Chatting online to D, never imagining he would turn out to be my husband (The Rainbow Children). Becoming a parent (3121). Each chapter of my life accompanied by a different album in a different place and on a different device, starting with tapes on my very first Walkman back 'home' in Wales, then a chunky waterproof version as a teen (that was cool, I listened to it on the beach in Mallorca), a 'ghetto-blaster' in the park, a portable CD player (everywhere, until the batteries went), then onto iPods, iPhones and in recent times, retina-display iMachines as I listen to MP3s from more recent albums such as Plectrum Electrum. Prince's music has been there for it all. Nothing else has. 

My children were confused when I burst into tears reading Thursday's news. And while it's quite easy to explain the tragedy of someone dying early - for whatever reason - and that you're shocked (they have heard this before), it's harder to explain that a much-valued but intangible part of your own life has come to an end too. Unless his enormous vault of music is released, my future memories won't be accompanied by annual Prince albums and, for the moment at least, I really can't imagine that.
Sometimes it snows in April
Sometimes I feel so bad, so bad
Sometimes I wish life was never ending
All good things, they say, never last
from 'Sometimes It Snows In April', by Prince, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman.

It's no exaggeration to say that we have lost a musical genius whose work spanned not only decades and genres but also the lives of many people over that time. Prince may be gone, but he left one hell of a legacy.

*Amazon affiliate links are included in this post.

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