Friday, April 22, 2016


"You're gonna miss me....'
"I'm done performing," she said. "I'm going to take my best crack at song-writing, and if that doesn't get traction in the next 18 months, I'll go into real estate."

She was in her early 20s, and already a stand-out blues singer. I was a pup, and quite smitten, but in this early conversation she revealed an unsettling, steely resolve toward life's difficulties -- steelier than that of yours truly, by quite a margin. Several health episodes left her hearing badly on the wane, so she was finished with the stage. As for the song-writing . . .

"You write a song that's good enough, anybody can sing it and sound brilliant," was her take. Case in point (she said): Cyndi Lauper singing "True Colors."

A couple of years later, I was working next to a guitarist-by-night. The radio was on, but not too loud, and my normally taciturn work-mate suddenly blurted, "God, but that Prince knows how to write a song, dun he?" I stared at him. We were listening to Sinéad O'Connor.

Prince was the full meal deal, no question. I was never a fan, but I've yet to meet a musician who wasn't in awe of him. Prodigiously talented, with an inerrant ear for staying accessible, possessed of one of those staggering personalities that changes the mood of an entire room -- even one the size of a stadium -- the only reason I bother acknowledging the obvious is . . .

. . . now that he's dead I find I'm wishing I'd made the effort to see him in concert.

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