A sort of surprising—but sweetly charmingly honest!—statement. So I posted it to Facebook.
And a few of my friends responded to the post—and some of their responses were way off base. “I had a student who never heard of Led Zeppelin.” “I had a student who’d never heard of Nirvana.” Uh, friends? Led Zep’s been belly up ever since John Bonham died way back in 1980, and Nirvana’s been dead too since Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994. Zeppelin and Nirvana are bands of the past—there really shouldn’t be an expectation that students of today are listening to them (though of course if they have any interest in popular music they should listen to them, though that’s another argument). Prince was alive until April 17 of this year, and making really good records right up to the end. So he was present, not past.
And, anyway—if my student was a kid who got his music from the internet, there’s probably little chance he could come across Prince’s music. Prince really controlled his music’s presence on the internet, and it was almost impossible to find. So there’s that.
After a couple of hours, the Facebook post seemed like it was getting a little too close to student shaming, so I took it down.
Then, as I pondered some on the post, I realized—I’m just like that kid! Me—myself!
Because I never heard of Prince until I heard of Prince.
Except I knew who he was, sort of.
I lived in Minneapolis in the mid/late 1970s. I would go out in the evenings sometimes to drink beer and listen to music and be young, and one of the bands I saw pretty often was a group called Grand Central. It was a long time ago, and there was beer involved, but I remember that Grand Central was really good. Any original material didn’t stick in my brain, but I remember them doing Sly Stone covers and liking those.
And I remember how one night the guitar player fell to his back and kept on playing—nice!
Another show I remember never happened: Grand Central was sharing the bill at Macalester College with my favorite punk band, the Suicide Commandos. The show was advertised as PUNK FUNK AND DRUNK…and, sadly, was canceled because of bad weather. I was really psyched to go to that one.
So…a year or two later I was living in Austin and my roommate was reading the record reviews in Rolling Stone, and he asked, “When you were in Minneapolis, did you ever hear of some guy named Prince?” He held up the magazine—it was a review of the album titled Prince.
I remember thinking about it. I said, “Uh, no.”
Then about a year after that I was over at a friend’s house and she put on a new record--Dirty Mind. It was wonderful, of course, and then I looked at the album cover—and—whoa!—wait!—what?—is that that guy from Grand Central? That guitar guy?
He was Prince!
So….I am—or was—just like my sincere honest student. I didn’t know who Prince was until I knew who Prince was.
Below--my fave recent Prince song....