When Prince died on April 21, I wrote a post on another blog about how Prince made it easier for black kids like me to be gay. Growing up with the machismo that was such a part of the culture I grew up in during the 70s and 80s, Prince was a godsend.
Speaking of godsends, Prince was in a rare league of artists who would publicly talk about their faith. He was America’s answer to Bono in that respect.
I can remember listening to “I Would Die 4 U” the first time and excited to hear a song that talked about the atonement, Jesus and grace so easily. Maybe others thought this was a song about how Prince felt about a lover, but the way the lyrics were written, it was hard to see this as a talking about girlfriend. No, he had his sights set on higher things:
You’re just a sinner I am told
Be your fire when you’re cold
Make you happy when you’re sad
Make you good when you are bad
I’m not a human
I am a dove
I’m your conscious
I am love
All I really need is to know that
The opening part of his 1981 hit “Controversy” is the Lord’s Prayer, which might seem like an odd way to start this post-disco tune, but since the song is talking about who Prince is (black or white? straight or gay?) his recitation of the prayer Jesus taught is the answer to the question. He knew who he was and also whose he was.
Even his signature hit, 1984’s “Purple Rain” had some spiritual meanings. A quote from the 1980s talked about what Purple Rain meant:
When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple.. purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god”guide you through the purple rain
In 2015, Prince covered the song “What If” originally sung by contemporary Christian music artist Nichole Nordeman. It’s a pretty straight up song about Jesus and Prince makes it his own.
What if you’re right
And He was just
Another nice guy
What if you’re right
What if it’s true
They say the cross
Will only make a fool of you
And what if it’s true
What if He takes His place in history
With all the prophets and the kings
Who taught us love and came in peace
But then the story ends, what then
But what if you’re wrong
What if there’s more
What if there’s hope
You never dreamed of hoping for
What if you jump
Just close your eyes
What if the arms that catch you
Catch you by surprise
What if He’s more
Than enough what if it’s love
There were several other songs like “The Cross” or “God” I could talk about. What made Prince so fascinating to me is how his faith was blended into his whole life. Sex, love and God seemed to all intermingle together. His faith sprung from his life, raised Seventh Day Adventist, spending time a local United Methodist Church in Minneapolis and his conversion to Jehovah’s Witness (he attended a local Kingdom Hall in suburban Minneapolis) and his music showed his faith never left him.
It’s hard to believe Prince is gone. As my husband said last night, you want to believe this is some kind of dream that we will all wake up from. But it isn’t.
What I can say is that he is finally able to live out the words from his 1984 hit “Let’s Go Crazy:”
We are gathered here today
To get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time
But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night
Have fun enjoying the happiness and God, Prince.
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