Purple Reign

Prince, summoning the purple reign.

I would listen to the Electrifying Mojo religiously. He would land his mothership on WJLB and the members of the Midnight Funk Association would be brought to order. He would spin funk, R&B, rap, soul and even new wave from 10-2 every night. They say that Mojo broke Prince to the Detroit airwaves.

One night Mojo opened with the promise that he would play When Doves Cry for his entire show. And he did. I was in the car and listened for fifty miles, stopping only when I turned off the engine at my destination.

Mojo looped the song back on itself, reinserted the guitar intro and elongated the bridge. And did it all again in a different configuration. And again. It was seamless and beautiful. I didn’t think that I would listen for long, but I was bewitched by the tom tom, guitar, howls, falsetto and the telling and retelling of the story of the sad love birds.

I knew that the Electrifying Mojo took plenty of chances, playing full albums and mixing genres. But I almost thought that he would get fired for playing When Doves Cry for four hours. Four hours one continuous song. It was subversive. And it was art.

Like Prince, a most subversive artist. Prince sang about love, sex, sexuality and making love. He performed looking sexy in a ruffled shirt, high heeled boots and a purple satin frock coat. Men loved him. Women loved him. He wore eyeliner. He changed his name into a symbol over his rights to his music. He played an inspired Super Bowl halftime in the pouring rain. His tour bands always included women musicians. He made pancakes. He shredded on the guitar. He made us party like it’s 1999. He rocked, he rolled, he whispered, he screamed. He pretended we were married and that he was your girlfriend. He sang for Freddy Gray and for Baltimore. He was funky. He was a star. He left unexpectedly, and too early. I hope to a place where your horses run free.

Thanks, Prince, for being on the soundtrack of my life. Tonite I have you on loop. Game blouses.

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