I’m compelled to confess that I skipped church Sunday. A friend called Saturday evening and wanted to go to First Avenue and Paisley Park to mark Prince’s passing and leave some purple mementoes.
It was surprising even to me that both my husband and I said yes to the spontaneous plan. We were curious. We’ve listened to more Prince music in four days than I’m sure I’ve heard in my entire life. I have never seen the movie “Purple Rain.”
Saturday night, we stayed up to watch “Saturday Night Live,” which featured Jimmy Fallon hosting nonstop (well, except for the ubiquitous commercials) clips of Prince’s past performances on “SNL.” “Styles have changed. People have come and gone. But Prince has never not been cool,” Fallon said.
When I woke up in the middle of the night, all I could think about was, “What purple items do I have that I can bring and leave?”
It was raining pretty hard when we picked up our friend at the Green Line Stadium Village stop on University Avenue near the University of Minnesota. We headed to First Avenue after swinging by Byerly’s to pick up purple flowers and purple balloons.
There were only about 20 people, most carrying umbrellas, gathered quietly at the cordoned off area on First Avenue, where Prince filmed “Purple Rain” and his star has the prime spot on the nightclub’s exterior black wall. The pile of flowers and memorabilia underneath his star ― including a guitar and a ukulele ― was almost 4 feet deep and tall.
I took a few photos of Prince’s star, the building, my friend, Amanda, and Gigi, her adorable teacup-sized terrier appropriately “dressed” in pink and purple. Then we headed to Uptown.
Last week, I had met with Rock Cyfi Martinez, an amazing budding new graffiti and mural artist in the Twin Cities, originally from Tucson, Ariz., about a public art project in Edina. I was delighted to wake up to see a photograph of his Prince mural on the side of an Uptown building on the front page of Sunday’s Star Tribune and I wanted to be sure to take my own photos.
It was really pouring by the time we arrived, but I threw my purple-and-white Native American blanket over my head ― and camera ― and made a dash to take a few photos. I was delighted to see Rock in front of his artwork talking to numerous people ― all with cameras and the same idea I’d had. He had painted the mural in about seven hours as a gift to Minneapolis, he said. After a brief chat, I took my photos and made a quick exit back to the car.
We were off to Chanhassen and Prince’s Paisley Park. Admittedly, I had no expectations. I’ve driven by the large white complex a few times before but never knew its famous history.
Signs and traffic tape pointed the way to the expanded parking area about three-fourths of a mile away from Paisley Park. Arnie dropped Amanda, Gigi and me off closer to the complex and joined us later. Luckily, the rain had stopped, but the area near the sidewalks were pretty muddy.
I was totally unprepared for what awaited us after we walked under a couple of road bridges to the long chain-linked fence around the Paisley Park perimeter.
Hundreds of purple balloons tied to the fences were being blown by the wind. In addition, there were hundreds of bouquets of purple flowers, purple necklaces, purple scarves, purple signs, purple ribbons, purple clothes, purple pillows, purple stuffed animals, purple posters, purple candles, purple crosses, even a purple potholder with the symbol Prince used for his name sewn into it. He used the symbol for a few years as a political statement against the music industry, which tried unsuccessfully to control distribution of his music.
The experience was quite overwhelming. Yet people were polite, quiet, some somber, some celebratory, respectful, peaceful. I was not surprised to run into a couple of friends walking along the purple-filled path. They said they live very close by and it was the fifth time they’d come. They, too, were amazed at how big the memorial had grown.
All sorts of people, businesses and communities, local and worldwide are marking the death of Minnesota’s magical, mysterious musician. The Minneapolis City Hall carillon bells Sunday played Prince songs “Kiss,” “1999,” “Nothing Compares 2 U” and “When You Were Mine.” Sports teams are marking his passing with large photos and moments of silence before the start of games. The young British woman who introduced President Obama at a town hall in England for diverse young leaders mentioned Prince. All top 10 songs on iTunes are Prince songs.
As I left my small mementos ― my favorite purple thistle flowers, a purple paper crown and a huge purple stone from a ring ― I reflected on the incredible impact the 57-year-old musician has made on the world. I’m so glad I went.
He left an immeasurable number of fans around the world who appreciated his many musical gifts, were grateful for his generosity and will mourn and remember him for a very long time.