I’ve got 3 chains o’ gold
And they will shine 4 ever
If one of us has 2 go
U will go before me
I’ve pretty much stopped marking celebrity deaths here, partially because there was a point when I lost touch with pop culture and it felt a little silly when it was someone who didn’t truly touch my life in some way.
Prince is different.
As I’ve said many, many times, Theresa was an absolutely hardcore Prince fan. Sure, she loved New Edition. Yeah, Maxwell was great. Of course I never would have heard A Tribe Called Quest when I did without her (I’ll never forget where I was the first time I heard Award Tour).
But then there was Prince.
She lived for Prince. At 15, she forced my mom to take her and her best friend to the movies to see Purple Rain. For years, my mom complained about having to sit through it. There was a battle over Theresa’s poster of Prince in chaps. I have faint memories of her singing along to Raspberry Beret.
Because of Theresa, I know every syllable of the Purple Rain album.
Because of her, The Love Symbol Album, despite it not being exactly how Prince intended it, is one of my favorite albums. Because of her, I knew Prince could play basketball before Charlie Murphy told the tale of him and his crew versus Prince and the Revolution.
He spoke to her, and because we were so close, he spoke to me.
As Theresa’s multiple sclerosis progressed, I got serious in immersing myself into the purple world. I already was screeching Prince’s lyrics at karaoke nights. One of the moments Shaunelle shares when telling people how she knew we were going to be friends was when the Purple Rain title track was playing at one of our parties and I slid across the hardwood floor on my knees at the start of the third verse: “Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changing.” By 2012, I had a good chunk of his discography. I still have a few albums to get, especially those in that weird period around 2000 when he mostly rejected traditional music distribution. What I do have is about 300 songs. I don’t think anyone comes close in my music collection.
As my eldest sister approached the end, I knew there was something I needed to do.
I burned CDs. A whole fistful of them — my favorites and hers. She couldn’t speak by that point but I told her what I did and told my mom to play them for her. She heard most of them; my mom caught the lyrics of a song and couldn’t believe her little girl was given allowance that went to a record store that sold cassettes with songs like that to her. I called my mom Tipper Gore.
She didn’t get it.
But Theresa got to hear the Purple Rain soundtrack one more time.
When my sister died in May, I promised myself I’d listen to his new albums for her. He cranked them out like nobody’s business. I still haven’t gotten to HITnRUN Phase Two because it was first on Tidal and getting music from iTunes to my computer archive and the cloud is a few steps more than I’m sometimes willing to take.
I thought I had so much more than a year before I reached a world without both my sister and Prince Rogers Nelson.
In a strange way, I’m glad Theresa never had to live in a world without him.
I went through the motions at work after I heard the news. I was grateful that no one ratted out how much of a fan I am, and I was relieved that the only person who comes close to being as big of a fan as Theresa moved heaven and earth to get to the newsroom to write the sendoff. Otherwise, a variation of this entry would be what they would have gotten.
Before I left for the day, I knew what song I wanted to hear on the ride home. I’ve always felt 3 Chains O’ Gold was Prince’s Bohemian Rhapsody. Although When Doves Cry is my favorite song of his and Delirious had me from the second the synthesizer kicked in, I just love how big 3 Chains O’ Gold is. It’s one of those songs where I’d be OK if the artist vowed to sing no longer after making it.
I started it the second I started backing out of my space at the parking garage at work. It ended as I was shutting my car down in my parking lot.
The tears I shed while playing Paisley Park before I pulled myself together and played Love 2 The 9’s as my wife walked through the door were for both Prince and Theresa. They’re both gone, but the memories are just a few notes away.