Spotlight: “I Met Prince Once”

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I didn’t have the pleasure of growing up on Purple Rain. Once, as a kid, when driving by a billboard with a Corvette and the line “Baby, you’re much too fast,” I had to ask my dad to explain it. For years, when I heard these popular songs they had the empty pleasure of cotton candy, sweet and fleeting. 

That all changed last year. While struggling with a severe bout of depression I found myself inexplicably drawn to Prince’s music. I knew that if I gave into the desire to listen to sad music it would only make things worse, so I banned The National and instead looped Prince’s greatest hits in my apartment after work. I progressed to listening to Purple Rain on repeat in the car, then at home and in the studio. I recited the words to myself when I wasn’t listening to the music.

I would stand in front of the speakers, volume turned all the way up, waiting for Prince to shake the sadness out of me. Though I couldn’t articulate it at the time, I now understand that what I needed was a demonstration of creative freedom and philosophical sincerity. I was exhausted from work; I was questioning friendships and if meaningful interpersonal connection was even possible. I needed to know that there was a way to look at the world that was both positive and genuine.

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Tatiana Ryckmans the author of The Ancestry of Objects, a novella forthcoming from Deep Vellum Books. Tatiana's other books include the novella, I Don’t Think of You (Until I Do), and two chapbooks of prose. She is the editor of Awst Press and has been a writer in residence at Yaddo, Arthub, and 100W. Her work has appeared in Tin House, Lit Hub, Paper Darts, Barrelhouse, and other publications. Tatiana can be found on airplanes or at tatianaryckman.com. More from this author →