PRINCE, a Story of Genius & Good
Twenty-five years ago I was in Los Angeles to score the 1201PM short that was later nominated for an Academy Award. I was there with the same Director, Jonathan Heap, whose new film, The Unwilling, I just finished scoring today!
We were in a famous Los Angeles bar. “Bar 1,” I believe but don’t quote me. There were a number of stars there, Dan Ackroyd for one, Michael Douglas, a few big names. And there was Steve. Tight haircut, wearing a crew collar sweater, I looked like “Johnny Prep.” I was never one for bars anyway and only went with Jonathan and Phil because… well, they said I had to!
At one point, a Prince song came up on the house system. A smile came to my face! In that same 25-year-ago SYNC-circle, I was just 2 months away from the premiere of a stage work entitled SON of the STORM, which as the SYNC of today would have it has been resurrected … 25 year later … and is currently in its final weeks of mixing.
I said, actually yelled to Jonathan, “You know Prince is a Genius!”
“You like Prince?”
“Wow,” said a surprised Jonathan over the noise. “I didn’t think you listened to that kind of Music.”
“Hey, man!” I shouted. “Genius is genius, and you know what? I want that guy to play the part of The Creature in SON of the STORM. Of course, how the heck do you get in touch with a guy like THAT!?”
At that very moment… PRINCE walked into the bar!
He was accompanied by two massive, and I do not use the word lightly, bodyguards. These guys were immense, one to Prince’s right, the other to his left.
I remember thinking, “how did he know his song was going to be playing? Did he time his entrance on purpose, or was it just a weird accident?”
Prince and his bodyguards walked in a non-engaging circle… into the room and then toward the exit. No one, not even the big name stars made eye contact with him, let alone do the somewhat expected pat on the back and say, “Hey Dude, how’s it going?” In fact, they looked away and down.
Perplexed by the way everyone was treating… freaking PRINCE… I sort of shook my head in question. Even my buddies seemed unimpressed with his presence.
Prince was just about to exit when I ran up in back of him and shouted, “I really LOVE your Music, man!”
The three of them stopped cold and turned toward me. The room seemed to go quiet as I could feel ALL eyes on the four of us!
Now… think about what I might have said:
“Oh Mr. Prince, how severely I enjoy your Music-making, sir…”
“Hi, Mr. Prince. You know, I’m a Composer too, and you need to be The Creature in my…”
“I want to congratulate you on your many…”
Instead, and just like the little boy I really am, I repeated myself and said to a guy my same age, “ I really LOVE your Music, man!”
Now… think about what Prince might have said, because you see, this is the crux of the story!
“Why thank you. It’s not easy being great…”
“Oh… are you someone who might help me further in my career? You see I don’t normally speak with peons, who dress like they are at prep school.”
Prince turned around, his 2 bodyguards mirroring the move. An honest smile came to his face. he was calm an seemed somehow relieved. He made direct contact with my eyes. Did I see loneliness there? He was warm and sincere and kind. He extended his hand and while we shook hands he said, “Thank you. Thank you.”
He turned around and left the place. Everyone was now staring at me.
I have spent many years, 25 to be exact, wondering about what all of that meant. When Prince left us just days ago, that story of his Genuineness and Kindness and Sincerity and Genius came flooding back.
I have taken into my own the hand of many many people across the many years of my Life. The moments of genuine connection are always rare indeed.
I wanted to share this story about Prince for a simple reason. There are certain things you can’t fake. You really can’t fake Sincerity, or Warmth, and though you can act Kind, you can’t fake real Kindness.
Prince was real. I admired him greatly. Still do. I believe he is a genius… but more than that, I believe he is a good soul. I will always remember shaking his hand and looking into his eyes and in that brief moment, connecting with an immensely gifted and good man.