Oh, man, where do I begin? EZ spoke true when he said I am and have been a Prince fan since I was a young’n. You know, it hit me that it doesn’t matter how many (or few) copies you own of a particular artist’s work–If people call you with condolences when that artist is gone…? You’re probably a real fan.
I do meet up with EZ and the H4L crew for some genuinely hype workouts. I must humbly suggest, though, that I haven’t earned that nickname he’s given me: The Mississippi Mozart. Maybe call Prince “The Minneapolis Mozart.” Or call Mozart “His Austrian Badness.” But me, I’m Ok with “JC” for now. The other way is a whole lotta pressure. LOL. But for real…over time I’ve come to recognize a kindred spirit in my man EZ. We could wax philosophical about Prince and the music till the cows come home if we had the time.
What strikes me about Prince’s music is not only the sheer depth, diversity and vastness of…just…the expanse of it… I know it sounds like I’m talking about the outer universe, right? But I’m not. LOL. What strikes me is not only the above, but also how it just inspires movement. Let me tell you: If your music doesn’t ever move you, you need some new music. Posthaste. Anyway, like most folks, I love the ballads. Nobody does them like Prince. But I don’t let the music compete against itself, comparing up-tempo to downbeat, ranking, etc. It’s all one organic thing to me. That’s why I’m perfectly comfortable taking a B-side (or secondary) track and running with it out of the gate. So let’s go back…
It was 1984. And I was a lowly freshman. Normal day like any other at a high school in a small town in southeast Mississippi. Except it was Friday. And it was pep rally! You know this feeling. The very air just seems like it’s charged with some kind of concoction of otherworldly energy, mixed with school spirit, butterscotch clouds, (a tangerine, maybe?)… In our minds it was something that only we kids could sense. The program proceeded as usual. The chants and cheers: “Two bits, four bits, six bits a dollar…” The band. And so on.
Next came other filler activities. But there was always a building sense of anticipation. And the energy and noise grew with it. Presentation of captains. Then to close: With the spirit stick competition. The gym was a madhouse by this time. Our teachers would have probably asked, “By this time?! You mean ‘yesterday’ and all the days before it?” LOL. Yeah. That. But yeah…a madhouse. Bleachers rocking, cheerleaders working the sections into a frenzy. All for a striped stick. A striped stick. And random thrown pieces of candy you could probably find at any corner store.
But wait. There’s pop music playing now. I know that song! That can’t be right, though. It’s not even a released single, let alone a highly promoted one. But everybody knows it. Suddenly our eyes are drawn to the Senior class section that somehow always seemed to include some guys that look suspiciously like some of my classmates, masquerading as seniors to gain some brilliantly conceived cool points by sneaking in with the older guys they knew. And they had staked out the top level bleacher seats.
And nobody’s eyes were on the cheerleaders any more. Because THESE guys suddenly had everybody’s attention. The song that played was Prince’s “Baby I’m a Star.” And what were the guys doing? The “Bird.” It was a sort of silly dance, but like anything done with a large group…hey, it was more than a little bit cool. It had been popularized by the group Morris Day and the Time. Everybody got the connection to the movie Purple Rain. The place erupted and the roof came off that day. And that’s how a B-side single killed it at a hometown pep rally down south. And it was Prince.
There is a reason why this memory is so vivid. Music, among other things, helps to keep me sane in a hectic world that is so in a hurry to go where it’s already been. This music–and memories of it are part of my wellness. It’s a kind of mnemonic. It’s a puzzle that all comes together. If I let it. If you let it.
I was taking an evening walk and talking with my daughter the other night. We spoke about various things: school, friends, movies, etc. And poetry. Yes, poetry. I was saying to her (she likes math), There’s this one I never could finish. Never enough time. But I think it went something like this:
‘I am as constant as 5. I am as elusive as a coefficient of 1.
You will not always see me (and not at all if my game is on).
But you will know I am there. I am implied.
I can’t be caught, because there is no theorem, no proof, that leads to me. I am not derived.
I am a natural. I am a mathematical…fact…
I am far and away beyond your grasp. You cannot touch me.
I will stand at the last.’
I had to confess that I had lost the rest to some distraction or other interruption that I can’t even remember now. Probably a telemarketer. LOL.
I had thought then to tell her, that if she is ever faced with a problem, an opponent, a goal, an ambition, “Remember your prayers. And maybe even these words, this little poem I give you… Remember. After you’ve tranced yourself into your ‘zone.’ After you’ve convinced yourself that you will bend this reality to your will… Remember.”
Then lighten up and put on “Baby I’m a Star.” You just might bring the house down.
And nobody’s eyes will be on the cheerleaders. ~JC
This song, Baby I’m a Star, is a fun place to start. It is a celebratory song. Prince begins focusing on himself and how he is perceived in others’ eyes – “Hey look me over. Tell me do you like what you see?” The song moves from all eyes on me to a party anthem celebrating everyone’s ability to be great. It is also the climax to the climatic last scene in the movie, Purple Rain.
Working at a theater, I probably saw the movie 7 times. This scene, maybe 50 times. This song was the warning for us to bottom-up our pre-Carolina Panthers colored sport coats and grab the trash can and broom to clean the theater.
As I mentioned earlier, Prince seems to want validation. He asks the audience, “look me over,” “take a listen,” “check out all of me.” In life we do tend to ask for others approval, don’t we? He goes as far to say “You will see my point of view even if I have to scream and shout.” I’d like to see that rock star tantrum. In the Grind, we say, “You do you. Don’t dwell on others expectations for you. You know whether you need to modify the burpee even if that workout partner looks like he can do hundreds of burpees in Prince stiletto heels. At end of the day, do you because you have to put in the work.”
Speaking of work, “Everybody say, nothing come too easy When you got it baby, nothing come too hard.” Doesn’t come too hard, yes, there is work. Hard work. Grind type work to achieve a goal. When we succeed, the work and passion to reach that goal, is justified and not “too” hard.
I said this was a celebratory song. After all of the me me me, Prince Prince Prince, and I’m the greatest, Prince flips this into a party anthem celebrating everyone. Giving that encouragement to all. “Baby I’m a star, we all are a star, yeah.” Hopefully, Hype4Life helps all feel like a star. We celebrate and respect everyone’s journey.
Never really thought about this song in this way. Hmm, may never again think of it this way. If nothing else, with the killer rhythm and lines like “Oh, I don’t want to stop, till I reach the top,” I need to put this song on my elliptical workout playlist!