In many ways, you helped bring us together and define our local culture. You were, and will always be, considered a true resident of our land. Other legends may have started here, but no one will likely own it the way you did. You used the Twin Cities as your drafting board, runway, and home base, whereas others used it as merely a birthplace and/or a delirious pit stop on their way to bigger and better things, never looking back.
Because of you, people have a much better sense of our home. You shined a light on the fact that we could be as cutting-edge as any other destination. You opened up our rich city and vibrant nightlife in a way that allowed other local artists to shine. First Avenue was once a concert venue only for us, but you brought its stage to the world. Purple Rain gave people their first real glimpse into what the TC culture could look like; even if it wasn’t a complete truth for everybody at the time, it was enough to get people thinking.
While you were purifying the world in the waters of Lake Minnetonka, we all knew you were really taking them for a dip in the river.
So many of our local artists have added their Prince stories to the collective vault, often describing in detail many intimate moments in which you personally impacted their lives. Whether or not you’d actually met them in person -- as was the case with Hüsker Dü alum Bob Mould, who explained in an intimate Facebook post all of the ways that you indirectly impacted his entire career -- your legacy was felt. Local rock legend and Replacements frontman Paul Westerberg wrote about you in an article for Rolling Stone. He recounts the initial meeting: “The first time I met him was at a urinal at a nightclub in St. Paul. There he was, and I said, 'Hey, what's up?' And he answered, 'Life.' One word: 'Life.'"
Amid all of the things you gave us, there was one that meant the most: life.
The stories. The image. The guiding of a culture. No matter how you cut it, you gave the Twin Cities the greatest romance ever sold. It’s because of this we owe you in a way I’m not sure we can pay. Honestly, can we live under your ideals as the price for your purple reign? Can we search for perfection in the way that you did? Can we continue to show the world that the Twin Cities is a place that all people around the world should aspire to in spirit? I’m not sure if we can, but I’d like to make a promise to you that we’ll at least try.
We may not always succeed, but as you once wrote, “We are gathered here today to get through this thing called life.”
Because of what you gave to us, and the way you made us all matter, we just might.
Your loyal flock of doves
“Life is just a party, and parties weren't meant to last."
- Prince, "1999"
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Keane Amdahl is a veteran Twin Cities writer who is deeply saddened by the loss of The Purple One. Follow him on Twitter @FoodStoned.