I grew up at the height of Prince’s popularity. Purple Rain, When Doves Cry, Little Red Corvette: they were all in my childhood sweet spot. And I’m here to confess, I didn’t get it back then. I didn’t get HIM. I had immersed myself in classic rock. I was the guy in middle school with the jean jacket that had patches on the back of The Doors, The Who, and the Rolling Stones. My boom box was stuck on the rock station. Prince was stuck on the dance station. I didn’t go there.
As I grew up and became a DJ, I broadened my musical tastes. I HAD to. I was playing for other people and what THEY liked, not necessarily what I liked. Prince was in the middle of his New Power Generation era… Diamonds and Pearls and such. We’d play college throwback nights and “1999” was a big one. We were only a few years away after all so why not party like it. I graduated college and Prince became the artist formerly known as Prince. I worked in radio. My musical tastes broadened even more. By now I liked bits of everything INCLUDING Prince. Wow I never realized how he could wail on the guitar. He could play.
I got married. Prince became Prince again. He went his way and I went mine. I had an IPOD now with so MANY artists on it. I always wanted to pass on my love of music to the girls. In retrospect, I had just a few years in their childhood sweet spot before they were spoiled by peer pressure and friends at school. Before they felt they HAD to listen to what was popular, they often listened to what dad and mom introduced them to. They learned about the Beatles and eventually Paul McCartney was their first concert. They learned about so many groups. Shuffle was our friend. The Police, The Foo Fighters, The Fugees, Santana. We listened to it all. But one song had their attention for a period of time more than any other. It had become my favorite Prince song. “Raspberry Beret” would play and the kids would sing the refrain. Over. And Over. And Over. They would sing that song. They’d ask me to play it again. I think they loved that a hat was named after a Raspberry. Me personally, I loved the that the song created a perfect mental image for me and I could imagine that girl standing down by old man Johnson’s farm in that raspberry colored hat.
The kids continued to grow, and as our older daughter got later into elementary school, she was listening to what ALL the kids listened to. They don’t want to hear about dad and his music as much anymore. It already seems like so long ago. And that brought me to today. The news about Prince hit me hard. I was driving home on the freeway and Raspberry Beret came on the radio. I sang along and I actually got teary-eyed, and then bummed out, bummed out that I had never taught my kids about Prince. How the hell am I PAST the initial phase when I taught them so much about music and somehow we had never covered Prince. And then I remembered we HAD. I remembered those few months with shuffle on the IPOD and Raspberry Beret. I got home tonight and my wife and kids got home tonight and we all sat at the table for dinner. I asked them about Prince. I asked if they remembered the Raspberry Beret song. They thought for a moment. They looked around. Then my older daughter launched into the refrain… and my younger daughter launched into the refrain. Two kids, part of their OWN new power generation, sang about the woman with the Raspberry Beret. We talked about Prince and the fact that he had died. We talked about why he was so important and influential. We talked about the Raspberry Beret. A guy I didn’t get as a kid, had become the artist I really learned to appreciate as an adult. Maybe just maybe, I DID succeed in passing just a little of that onto the kids. To Prince, respect.