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Good night, sweet Prince

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A fond farewell to a fallen genius

As someone who isn't really a music guy, I don't always feel the connection to iconic figures. As a longtime consumer of popular culture, I recognize the value of musical titans and am certainly left reeling by their departures. However, it's rare that those departures deeply impact me.

But Prince? YeahPrince hit me hard.

The no-doubt-about-it musical genius passed away last week at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota. He was 57.

It still hasn't quite sunk in the Kid is gone.

I came of age in the 1980s, when Prince was one of pop music's dominant forces. '1999,' 'Purple Rain,' 'Parade' these albums were significant contributors to the soundtrack of my adolescence. Hell, I wore out a cassette tape version of the 1989 'Batman' soundtrack; I still love 'Batdance' and I don't care who knows it.

I'll freely admit that as I checked out of the pop music world, I heard less of Prince's music. But who could keep up? The guy wound up with a staggering body of work 39 studio albums, as well as five soundtracks, five compilations and four live albums. There was no way a musically-disinclined fellow such as myself would stay current.

But I loved the fact that he was still out there, doing things strictly on his terms (who can forget *unpronounceable symbol*, the Artist Formerly Known As Prince?) and following his muse wherever it might take him. His sheer musical talent was generational, the sort of thing people will look back on with ever-increasing awe as time passes particularly considering that there's a vault, a literal VAULT full of unreleased material that we'll likely continue hearing for years to come.

His live shows have been legendary for decades, a demonstration of the uncanny virtuosity he could put on display at any moment. And in case you never had the opportunity to see him in concert, there was that time when he gave us what is probably the greatest Super Bowl halftime show ever in 2007.

I'm sure there are people out there who are adopting the knee-jerk contrarian position that Prince was somehow overrated. Any person who does that is a troll, a fool or both. Any sensible person any sensible person that actually likes music, at any rate has to admit that Prince Rogers Nelson was a legitimate musical genius. You might not have particularly enjoyed the ways he chose to express that genius, but genius it undeniably was.

Years ago, I had a friend who swore that she could determine whether or not she could truly be friends with someone on the basis of their answer to a single question: given the opportunity, would they sleep with Prince?

(You can probably guess the correct answer.)

But the biggest reason the most personal reason that I'm stunned by Prince's death is the role that his music played in the most important thing that has ever happened to me.

The first time I ever shared a dance with my future wife, the song that was playing was 'Purple Rain.' And the first time I ever shared a dance with her after she had become my wife, the song that played was 'Purple Rain.' Is it the most lyrically appropriate song for a first dance any first dance? Probably not, but that doesn't matter. Prince's song had become our song, and so it remains for the rest of our lives.

Prince lives on. He lives on in my heart and the hearts of thousands upon thousands like me whose worlds were made better by his presence.

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