Commentary: That time I touched Prince’s shoulder
My mom understood being a fan, living in Elvis heyday, and anytime we would drive from our tiny North Dakota town to visit Minneapolis, she would drive by First Avenue for me, yelling for Prince out the window. Today I often drive by Prince s Paisley Park recording complex, performance space and home, now affiliated with Graceland Enterprises. A year after Prince s death, I can play the song Paisley Park and focus on the happy memories of time spent there. After a few years of attending dozens of Paisley Park dance parties, I had two direct interactions with Prince, beyond telling him, Thank you, as he walked by, which is all I could ever manage to say to him.
The first is a little embarrassing. It was as he walked off stage in the NPG Music Club room after a performance at Paisley Park. He walked by me and I reached out and lightly touched his shoulder. I knew that he deserved his personal space. I had been reminded of it about a year before, the first time I was tempted to reach out and touch him as he walked by and a security guard slapped my hand away, quite rightly. Yet, there I was, a suburban mom with an understanding of what appropriate behavior is, just wanting to touch this magical icon.
I carefully and quickly reached out to tap his shoulder as he passed, then I smiled sheepishly and went back to dancing. Later that night, we were able to take a $20 tour of the recording studios to listen to new music and get a glimpse of the halls decked out in art featuring Prince s influences and proteges, and displays of his awards and songs that had been recorded at Paisley. We stepped into his recording studio and there he was, leaning against the instrument panel.
We shuffled in and I was just a few feet from him. He said, Who touched me out there? I sharply inhaled.
I couldn t deny it. I slowly raised my right hand, close to my body, up in front of my face. He looked at me, cocked his head to one side, pursed his lips and shook his head at me, looking a little, I hope, bemused. The second encounter with greatness was after I posted a story about the international fans who had attended his Piano & A Microphone shows.
He tweeted my story out, book-ended by the words EDEN and PRAIRIE, I assume because it appeared in the Eden Prairie News. I was over the moon. In over 30 years of cherishing our paisley patriarch, those were the only times I came close to interacting with him, but almost a year after his death, it s hard to deny his influence on my life. And it s hard to imagine what the year has been like for his friends, family, bands and employees.
There was one other way in which Prince touched my life. His donation toward music education at Chanhassen Elementary School. I had no idea until after he died that he had given money to a program that both my children have loved and that has nurtured their love of music.
And again, I guess the only thing I can say is Thank you.