cover art Prince Drawing by golfiscool
How can you leave me standing. Alone in a world that’s so cold. Maybe I’m just too demanding. Or maybe I’m just like my father, too bold. Or maybe you’re just like my Mother. She’s never satisfied. Why do we scream at each other? This is what it sounds like when doves cry. – When Doves Cry, Purple Rain, Prince, 1984
When Doves Cry by the late great Prince.
When Doves Cry
written & edited by Kendall F. Person
In 1984, a recording artist from Minneapolis by the name of Prince Rogers Nelson would completely take over. He started slowly, with a song titled I Wanna Be Your Lover, which was new and different and fresh and would begin an odyssey of a performance artist named Prince. Although, there would be plenty of great songs that followed, no one will argue, even the most hardcore Prince fan who owns dozens of his albums, that When Doves Cry from the surprise blockbuster film Purple Rain, his aura would match that of Michael Jackson, who at that time, ruled the world.
Performance Art – in its most traditional definition – is spoken in reference to fine art or the theater or Shakespeare-like performances in the park, avant garde, if you will. But words and phrases often evolve or widen, becoming more inclusive, offering a greater variety. Performance Art derives from the imagination, and takes shape within the soul of the artist. And when the idea springs outward as a song or a dance or a motion picture or an essay, in the most spectacular occasions, it becomes more than those words, it becomes a performance.
Prior to the arrival of MTV and the music video, the true measure of an artist, was their stage presence, live and in concert. And in 1985, in Long Beach California, I was in the audience of a sold out arena to see Prince in person, and not only did he not disappoint, but he delivered a roof-raising, stand and deliver shouting, show-stopping performance, that I would remember for decades after.
Prince would call his own shots. He would change his name, and ultimately pull all his music from the internet, if that was what it took to have it his way with the mind-boggling library of music he wrote, composed, performed and played nearly every instrument on nearly every song.
Prince was an extraordinarily successful entertainer, but to him, he was an artists and he felt every one of his creations. And yes, sometimes, at the expense of the fans that loved him, but how could we find fault with him?
Defining ourselves as performance artists, does not mean we are making a living at our craft, but of course that is a goal. It does not mean that we walk in a singular, non-inclusive circle. Nor does it mean we ever retire, as after we are students (which never ends) we should pass on our knowledge, through teaching or sharing or continuing to entertain.
I have never met Prince, nor have I ever seen an in-depth interview, where I felt like I learn something about him. And although he has been lambasted in both music circles and the press, his near self-vanishing act, seems exactly like another Prince performance. But when you are planning or designing or living your imaginative world, always remember, that the art we have been gifted with, ultimately serves two purposes: It is our contribution to the world, our signature that we were here; and more pressing, as performers, we are here to entertain.
So what does it sound like When Doves Cry? The brilliancy of the prose, laid over a groundbreaking beat made it a number one song. But I imagine, that the real sound of doves crying is silence, from the voice of an artist who should be singing and sharing his wealth of songs.
Rest in Peace
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