And they say I’m so shy, yeah
But with you I just go wild!
1. A Wednesday night in the summer between high school and college. We’re walking out of a used bookstore where we’ve just had some tea or something and my friend Kate—who riffled through our school’s costume closet to find a raspberry-colored beret for her character to wear during a production of You Can’t Take It With You—tells us: “I’ve discovered a new Prince song. For a long time I resisted it, because of its title, but I recently listened to it, and you should too.” She rolls down the driver’s side window of her Toyota Corolla, puts the key in the ignition, turns on her CD player (The Hits 1 is already in there), cues up “Soft and Wet,” and we dance in the parking lot.
2. I’m back home the summer after sophomore year of college. My birthday is a little while after the semester ends and my girlfriend lives in Arizona. I get a package in the mail: a t-shirt (Fruit of the Loom, white, men’s medium) with this on the chest. Prince doesn’t license his image; my girlfriend had spent about an hour on Google Image Search trying to find the biggest picture she could. She’s on the computer at a Kinko’s in Tucson where a metal kid she went to high school with works. He helps her design the t-shirt. She’s self-conscious about it, says it’s for a friend, a joke. He puts his hand on her knee and says, “A joke? You’re working really hard on this, if this is a joke.”
3. A few years after college, we all get together at a friend’s apartment on Atlantic Avenue to watch Purple Rain. (Some of us were in a moderately successful indie band around this time; the rest of us used to go to their shows, stand in a clump in the middle of the crowd, and bellow just the “Purple rain, pur-urple ra-ain” part between songs so our friends didn’t have to do between-song banter.) We get really into it, we rewind to rewatch our favorite parts, and we dance through the whole end credits, and for several songs after that. A knock at the door, the downstairs neighbor. “Hey, guys.” Yeah, yeah, sorry. “No, we’re sorry. Look, we love Prince, actually we’re having a really good time, it’s just, one of us has the flu, and…” She’s laughing while she asks us to stop stomping on her ceiling.
4. Saturday, June 27, 2009. Michael Jackson died on Thursday and we’re at K&M Bar on North 8th and Roebling. Like everyone else in the city it’s just wall-to-wall MJ all weekend and then, while we’re in a circle on the dancefloor seeing who can make the most ridiculous Smooth Criminal hand dance with an imaginary fedora, a new song comes on, with a chicken-scratch guitar intro and a very sexually confident bassline. Which MJ song is this? We groove out for about a minute before we recognize an extended mix of “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” and squeal.
5. Reykjavík, summer 2014. “Amma Rock” (Grandma Rock) is Andrea Jónsdóttir, a sexagenarian Icelandic DJ. In the 70s she was a music critic for socialist magazines; now she plays her favorite classic rock CDs at a bar called Dillon most weekends. She takes requests, if she can hear you—she’s sitting on the elevated DJ platform next to the bar, her little legs dangling down onto the dancefloor. We leave our drinks on the table when she plays “When Doves Cry,” and then stop, standing, waiting, when the CD skips. The song starts again, we’re really into it, doing the funky-rigid shoulder-dance thing, and the CD skips again. Everyone groans. She skips ahead to “Let’s Go Crazy.” And we do.