No, not Prince.
I woke to the news on that Friday morning, the blow surprisingly acute. Prince dead? It was hard to believe and I wasn’t the only one reeling. Well-worn entertainment reporters were in shock, music historians spoke of his genius and labelled him a modern-day Mozart, purists lamented the loss of a truly unique talent. While I’m unable to lay claim to any particular musical expertise, I felt the loss just as keenly. As the day wore on a purple haze descended, taking me all the way back to 1985.
As a teenager I’d loved Prince’s music to the point of obsession. While most of the other girls at school were fawning over pictures of Wham! I’d sworn allegiance to Paisley Park: substance and innovation over manufactured, pretty-boy pop.
Countless hours were spent lying on the floor of my floral-wallpapered, teenage bedroom watching the needle on the record player move from track to track and poring over the lyrics and credits on the 1999 album cover. I couldn’t get enough of his funk infused sound. The loaded words and suggestive dance moves carried more than a whiff of danger. Where I came from, to love Prince was rebellious.
But now more than 30 years later, with Prince gone, I found myself listening, with a new appreciation, to the soundtrack of my adolescence, but this time it was in a very different bedroom.
We’d planned to re-do the 15-year-old’s room for his birthday and, despite the gloom resulting from Prince’s untimely death, we had a deadline to meet and had to push on. The re-vamp became a best-of Prince weekend (although it seemed almost sacrilegious to be washing paint brushes with The Beautiful Ones as accompaniment). It was somewhere between Let’s Go Crazy and Take Me With U, as I was scraping paint spatters off the timber floor, that I had a very real flashback of what it was to be cocooned in a teenage bedroom, door shut to everyone and everything.
The teen bubble: it pretty much dominated my life from 14 to 17 years of age. Vast amounts of time spent mooning about in my bedroom, pondering everything as only a self-indulgent teenager can – all with the incomparable soundtrack of Prince’s early catalogue. Now, as I rolled paint onto my own teenager’s walls, there were vivid memories of that adolescent sense of being consumed.
Consumed by everything. From lyrics (oh god, how could they be so, like, meaningful?!) to a particular riff (the one that would make you lift the needle off the record, move it back a bit, and lower it down, hopefully in the right spot, just to hear that bit again and again). Consumed with the tragedy of love songs that caused tears and an almost physical ache. Nothing Compares 2 U? It devastated me. That teenage world … it’s so extreme.
And suddenly I knew that we weren’t just doing a bedroom makeover. No, it was much more than that - we were creating a new cocoon, a haven: a space for all those heightened emotions, the introspection, the angst. The 15-year-old would be getting not just an amazing new room (although it absolutely is, thanks to Rachael Miklas @design_detail) but a place to retreat from the world. Somewhere to be alone, to play guitar, to sob into a pillow (maybe), to write angsty poems or songs about love (hopefully), to slam the door on his hard-ass but loving parents (surely not).
Who knows what the soundtrack to all this will be? Of course that’s up to him. I like to imagine that in thirty years’ time, maybe when he's doing his own kids' bedroom up, he'll think back to his 15th birthday room reno and the memories will be accompanied by that unique voice, those freakish guitar solos and the sage advice that “if the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy, punch a higher floor…”.