The first person I thought of was Este Haim.
When she and her band Haim performed in Minneapolis two years ago, she could barely form sentences as she talked about performing on the stage so influential to Prince's career. It may have been the first moment I realized just how special he was.
Haim wasn’t the first band to evoke Prince’s name onstage in Minneapolis. Every show, every show I saw, the musician mentioned how honored they were to be playing in this city, the home of Prince. There was always an air of mystery: was Prince here, now? On the fringes of the crowd, watching the show?
When the first ambulance was reported at Paisley Park, the entire city knew. If it hadn't already been raining, it would have started. As someone who wasn't really raised on music and wasn't from Minneapolis, I never fully understood the magic of Prince, but on that Thursday I figured it out. How could I not? An entire city of people, people who usually keep their emotions close to their chest, gushed love and sadness until the streets literally turned purple.
(I know you're not supposed to use literally that way, but...literally.)
The local radio stations abandoned their programming for 100% Prince. Three friends and I sat in an Italian restaurant downtown listening to Purple Rain over orange scented gnocchi. We were downtown to see Amy Schumer, who poured out some of her wine (for Prince) and then talked about her vagina for an hour an a half (probably not for Prince).
The show took place across the street from First Avenue, the club Prince made famous in Purple Rain and where I saw Haim two years ago. The city had hastily thrown together an all night block party, and walking outside after Amy Schumer landed us smack dab in the middle of the crowd.
That weekend I ran an errand at the Mall of America, where Purple Rain played on a loop (presumably since Thursday). A woman dressed in head to toe purple -- church hat included -- walked listlessly to the third floor balcony and gazed out over Urban Outfitters, the Tollhouse cookie stand, and the indoor amusement park, tears streaming down her face as When Doves Cry echoed through the atrium.
The next week, my friend and I drove to Paisley Park on our lunch break. I had never seen it before, or had I? I'd driven down this particular stretch of suburban highway, but I may have missed what looked like a futuristic warehouse tucked between two daycares and just down the road from an Applebee's. This was what stood out most to me about Paisley Park; Prince and Applebee's don't exist in the same universe, do they?
As we approached Paisley Park, a wall of purple appeared: Balloons. Posters. Stuffed animals. Everything purple in every drug store must have been purchased and laid along the fence. Giant signs directed parking. People streamed across the street quietly, respectfully. TV cameras lined the sidewalk. "Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life" painted on posters, scrawled with crayon in children's handwriting.
I hung back. I didn't feel like I deserved to be there, but I was so glad I was.