There are not many singers whose songs captivate the imaginations of both me and my children. When we play Prince in the car, both my son and I sing along. The only time I saw Prince live in concert was with my daughter and her father. Prince broke down generational barriers with the power of his musical truth. His was a life and artistry of radical love.
Since the sudden, shocking, unexpected and as of this writing unexplained death of Prince Rogers Nelson– musical cultural icon, philanthropist, and sage– at the age of 57, much has been written about his genius that transcended easy, simplistic, and lazy categorization. He was a virtuoso performer on several instruments, among them key boards, drums, and guitar. He wrote music that became hits for himself and for other artists that was his own genre, a combination of R&B, funk, pop, rock, and jazz. His self-presentation was androgynous and beyond racial category.
Such a way of crafting and living one’s humanity requires both imagination and courage. Too, too many of us would not recognize our faces in the mirror without a group definition to tell us who we are and therefore who we are not. Our group identities tell us on whose side we are. It tells us who to love and who to fear. It gives us a false sense of self, either of inferiority or of superiority. We so often have to work against the definitions the world would impose upon us. These definitions very often constrict our humanity. Prince refused.
Further, Prince refused exploitation. Because of a contract dispute with a record company over the rights to his music, for several years he abandoned his name for an unpronounceable symbol. He became known as The Artist Formerly Known as Prince. In short: The Artist. At the time, many of us, myself among them, thought he was crazy, but his was the brand of crazy that one has to be if one is to be free.
Over the past few days, I have read commentary about his music, the eroticism, sensuality and sexuality of it. Some have commented on the spiritual aspect of some of his work. I want to comment on the concept of intimacy in at least one Prince song, my favorite song: “If I Was Your Girlfriend.” Sex and intimacy are not the same thing. Even though we often use the terms interchangeably, the two are different. There can be sex without intimacy, and there can be intimacy without sex.
In this song, Prince sings about friendship and trust and the kind of sharing that comes with a relationship between best friends. In the song he writes: “If I was your one and only friend would u run 2 me if somebody hurt u even if that somebody was me.” He writes of hanging out, of going to the movies and crying together, of being together and imagining what silence looks like. He has set aside a power over paradigm for a relationship where each partner feels safe enough to be vulnerable. The song goes on to sing about nakedness and sex, but these only come after friendship and trust. It comes after intimacy. It is what the Bible means when it speaks of sex as knowledge of one another. There is a kind of emotional and spiritual nakedness that can exist between two people where they are not ashamed.
We live in a sex saturated society. Privacy is a thing of the past as so many of us have given it away on Facebook, Twitter and other social media platforms. However, Prince was wise enough to know and to sing about the necessity of intimacy and love to human well-being.
I say and say again that the moral goals of our very short sojourns through earthly existence is sustenance and joy. There is little reason to sustain a life without joy. It is the joy we give and receive that makes life worth living. Prince brought us joy, made us think, and lived a radical love that could not be caged within categories.
God, Divine Love, The Universe, loaned us Prince for 57 years. He came to tell us that Love itself wanted to see us laughing, bathing underneath a purple rain, a refreshing, cleansing, life-giving down pour of royal beneficence. He told us that times were changing, that we ought to reach out for something new in the purple rain.
He has now returned to the Source, joining other musical, literary, artistic, and scientific stars in a galaxy beyond our powers of measurement or comprehension. His music remains here on earth with us to continue to bring us joy and wisdom, to remind us of the power and truth of radical love.
Thank you Prince.
We sing your words back to you. We will adore you until the end of time.
Valerie Elverton Dixon is founder of and author of Just Peace Theory Book One: Spiritual Morality, Radical Love, and the Public Conversation.

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