This isn’t going to be an article about Prince, its about the power of people like him.
The colour purple
Since I was 12, my favourite colour has been purple. I played his guitar solo to my best friend Vicky, over and over, on a tape, back then. Since he passed away, social (and non-social) media has been flooded with his name.
Friends speak of his generosity, acquaintances from his home town each have a Prince story to tell. The world seems to know, that a legend was here, for a time. But there are many artists of great, and even lesser talent, who become famous. What was it about Prince that made so many people feel like a shadow passed over them when he left?
The real story, the other story, is the man behind the music, the drive, the struggle. This makes me sure that what I felt was real. What could make this man, from modest upbringings, with looks and means far below that on which others typically depend, into such a phenomenon? What made so many different people from different parts of the world feel so connected to him?
Prince had a great story, but it is one thing to have a story, it is something else to be able to tell it. To share it. To speak with passion. His words spoke honestly, his rhythm so capturing it could find you in its rise and fall. You felt like you knew him, or moreover, he knew you.
It’s not about what car you drive, baby!
The younger version of ourselves found value in the way that things look, what car you drive, what people say. As you get older, honesty, humility and loyalty take their place. Actions speak louder than words. The truth spoken quietly is the loudest word.
From the church-like sermon start to his songs, to the breathy panting. Prince showed us how right and wrong can sometimes appear on opposite sides.
When people talk about Prince entering a room, they talk about his energy, the warmth you feel when he talks to you, his drive to create, even keeping up accountants at night working on projects, driving charitable donations, projects that he didn’t even want people to talk about. It’s only since his passing that they have started to speak. The real reason behind the touring for so many years wasn’t the money. It was love. Passion, generosity. Compassion. The best part of his shows wasn’t even the music, it was him. Those moments in-between when he speaks. At the very end of this video recording, back in 1983, you get a little glimpse of that. Prince was always Prince.
I saw him live at the O2 arena in London in 2007. It didn’t matter that it was just him, right down there in the middle of a tiny stage, with an audience of 20,000 people built up on the stalls like walls around him. Out from his small frame propelled his soul. Beat that. It was what hit me the most about his performance. The 10,000 people between us really didn’t matter.
He sold out every single night of that huge stadium. He was all about the music, and my god, was the music good. Funk, soul, rock, blues, what was it again?
When people are really tuned in with what they do, they have an aura that transcends normal boundaries. The energy which Prince poured into his projects came back to him through people and projects he worked with. I believe that it didn’t just come back to him, he lived through his interactions with others, and his artistic talent grew with each interaction. Creative karma, you could say. The guitar solo on Purple Rain was an improvisation from the first time the song was ever played live. He came up with it on stage. It stayed. You don’t have to wonder whether that was inspired by the energy from the heavy crowd that night.
The heart and energy
They say the heart generates by far the largest electromagnetic field in all the body. When we feel positive, we send out an energy, or pulse, into the atmosphere around us. Your vibe, you could say. Others can feel it. Up to 8 feet around us. Others respond. It is almost impossible not to.
Introducing Ikigai (生き甲斐)
The Japanese have a very cool word Ikigai, meaning “reason for being” but it doesn’t just mean that, it is like ‘calling’. According to the Japanese, everyone has one, and finding it requires a deep search of self. Such a search is regarded as very important, since it is believed that discovery of one’s Ikigai brings about a great meaning to life. Now I am not saying that everyone should be like Prince, I am just saying that when you have found your ikigai, it actually doesn’t matter what or who you are. Because you are happy. You have purpose, and you are fulfilled. You feel it because what you do is in harmony with you.
Ikigai combines four elements: that which you love, that the world needs, what you can be paid for, and what you’re good at. Where those meet, is your Ikigai.
The combination is the key
Prince’s real power didn’t come from just doing what he loved, it came from that combined with the other elements. You will always have pluralities of character. You can be good at multiple things, but you cannot always make a living from that which you love. The key is in the combination.
The most generous gift
Prince used his talents to highlight social, cultural, even industry problems. He was not afraid to speak out against racial inequality, social inequality, and for years he didn’t talk to his record label. He even dropped his name. Seriously. How many musicians would, or could, do this, for the sake of making a stand against their record company?
People said he was crazy at the time, but looking back now, isn’t it the most generous gift?
In the UK he gave away his album ‘Planet Earth’ for free with the Mail On Sunday paper, to 3 million readers. A lot of the issues he had with the online and record industry, were about those companies growing rich selling records, while the artists, especially the smaller ones, did not. Prince used his power to stand up for those artists.
It is difficult for us to understand now, since so few of his tracks are available on Itunes and Spotify that it actually makes his music difficult to find. As a Prince fan, you respected that and you knew you always had to buy the records.
The theme running throughout most of Prince’s songs is ascension. Almost every song centres on some kind of voyage toward a spiritual or sensual journey, he is willing us on the journey, willing us not to give up. There is a vault at his home, rumoured to hold enough music to release another album every year for the rest of this century. He said he never released it because there is so much of it. Maybe we will still see a lot more of him in the years to come.
Tell me, are we gonna let the elevator bring us down…
Oh, no let’s go!!
It’s what he would have wanted.
Posted by Rana Hein-Hartmann, EMEA Director.