2 Plates. 3 Questions. Part 2
If you could have lunch with three people that you currently have absolutely no chance of breaking bread with and you could only ask them three questions…Who would those three people be and what would you ask?
This is not a new question. I tried, with varying degrees of success, to pose valid and coherent quandaries to my hero, Barack Obama, in my first interview. As I mentioned last time, this is a topic that has been written about by better scribes than myself. But since I still have this website and since I still have this laptop and since I still have to actually write entertaining or, at the very least, non boring articles to succeed at this thing…I will give it another shot with someone that influenced my formative years like President Obama never could.
This is the second installment of a three part series – “2 Plates. 3 Questions.”
Here is my shot at tackling an over asked question and my attempt at injecting a little bit of Urban Upscale’s panache into a short read. Again.
How in the hell do I pretend to be composed? How do I limit my questions to three? He was SUCH an enigma! There are SO many questions!
Prince Rogers Nelson is more than a musical icon. He actually set the tone for an entire generation. There were endless nights where I would play his and only his music on my turntable or my cassette player. There were even quite a few nights where I would try to play his record backwards with my finger because the rumor was that he actually had a hidden message in one of his songs. BRILLIANT it was!!! And now, here I am, running late to meet him at the luncheon that HE suggested we have at Paisley Park! At Paisley Park!!!!!
I get to the front gate of the “compound” after driving uphill for what seems like hours through the densest of fog. A fog so thick that it resembled clouds and the guard asks my name. I tell him and he speaks into his wrist as if I were at the gate of the White House. But I can see clearly in the distance, further up the hill, that this house is purple! The guard waves me onward. I’m in!! After seeing the house from a distance and having seen the security situation, I only assumed that a butler would answer the door as I walked up. But no. Before I could even get to the entrance, the door swung open and there he was, standing there with a half smirk as he sized me up. It was Prince! And I was terrified! “What does this smirk mean?” “Is he pissed about me invading his privacy?” “Will he be a jerk?” “What if he just stares at me when I ask him a question and just never answers?” These questions revolve like a carousel horse in my brain as I muster up my poker face and manage to utter with an outstretched hand towards him, “Hi Mr. Prince!”
He stares at my hand for what seems like hours but was really only about 4 seconds and then he stares at me in my eyes, never reaching to return my gesture. It is exactly as I feared. “He is Prince. He is ‘different’. Should I just leave now before my grown ass starts crying?” He then looks as if he is going to explode as a vein in his forehead appears and then it is apparent…He is holding back laughter! He starts cracking up and leans over to hug me and says, “I am just messing with you man! You should have seen your face!” Clearly this is a joke that he plays on everyone because he knows that no one knows what to expect from him. I feel an instant and complete sense of relief as he leads me to what I am guessing is just one of the dining rooms in this mansion. As we walk down the hall with platinum records displayed on the wall, he says, “You seem like a nice guy and I would happily spend the day answering all of your questions but, No. 1, YOU said on the phone that your piece consisted of only 3 questions and, No. 2, I only have a few minutes for you today. I apologize but I have a meeting in about 30 minutes with a good friend that I just could not reschedule and if you knew who this friend was, you would so understand! So, my new friend, we will have to get right to it.” We sat at the table that already had both of our plates made. Fried chicken tenders and rice. Really Prince? This is what you are serving for lunch today? YAY!!! Sensing his time crunch, I settle in for the first question before even taking a bite….
- In a career that has seen so much success, what single accomplishment makes you most proud? He begins to answer even before I can finish the question. I can only assume that he has been asked this a gazillion times but that didn’t dampen the enthusiasm in his answer. “I have always felt music. I have felt music since I was 4. I love so many of my songs and are proud of many of them but given my, I guess ‘natural musical gifts’, I am most proud of making the movie “Purple Rain”. There are times when I rewatch it and I shudder when I see myself say some of those corny lines. But I shudder with pride as well because…you know…I MADE A MOVIE!! I am still so very proud of stretching into an unfamiliar territory and having that be a success!”
- What advice would you give today’s rising artists? The smile of pride on his face from my last question instantly disappeared as though he were deeply troubled. “So many artists today focus on presentation more than actual music. If you make your ‘image’ in your videos all about sex, like Nicki Minaj, or if your image is all about how rich you are, like Migos, then your music will eventually suffer. Therefore, the industry suffers. Now I wasn’t a stranger at all to projecting a certain image but I based my image on the lyrics that I wrote. Not the other way around.”
- Having lived the way that you lived with both the success as well as the challenges, what would you tell the WORLD? He looked down and stared blankly at his plate for what seemed 10 straight minutes. The silence was, all at once, deafening, terrifying and tense. He finally looked up and said….simply and without breaking his gaze into my soul…
“Find a way to deal with pain that doesn’t cause others pain.
When I discovered this, it was too late”
My “grown ass” struggles not to cry as I remember the profound influence that he had on my life and realized the true message behind his words.
He escorts me to the front door with apologies for the brevity of our meeting. When I get to my car, I look back and he yells, “I hope that we can have a longer conversation one day!” I get in my car and head to the gate exit and I see that the person driving in that he is meeting with next that was so important that he had only twenty minutes to spend with me. I look into the limousine to see who could possibly be more important than me and notice that the passenger had on mirrored sunglasses. He leans his hand out of the window to wave at me. The hand had a single white glove covering it adorned with rhinestones and I suddenly understood everything as I drove downhill…through the dense fog that I am now certain are clouds.
I smiled and thought “What a heavenly day!” as all the cloud shrouded purple disappeared in my rearview mirror. What a heavenly day “Uptown”!
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