Goodbye, Prince – You Were the Best of Us
Prince’s greatest moment may have come on February 4, 2007, at halftime of Super Bowl XLI. It was a miserable game. Not only was it not a close contest, but it was played in a torrential downpour that made the game hard to see, and an ordeal for the spectators who of course had been bled for every last cent en route to their seats. The athletes on the field for the most part didn’t rise to the challenge of the conditions, and played a sloppy game, adding to the impression of an overhyped, expensive letdown.
Then Prince came out at halftime and acted like he didn’t even notice the weather. He started with his usual concert-opening anthem, “Let’s Go Crazy,” and then did something nobody ever does at Super Bowls: He forgot to promote himself. He played other peoples’ songs, a weird mix including everything from Hendrix/Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower” to Queen’s “We Will Rock You” to “Best of You” by the Foo Fighters, a band whose members had no idea this was coming. He wasn’t selling himself, just music.
Then at the end, when he played “Purple Rain,” nature upstaged the most scripted event on Earth to unleash torrents of water on the stadium. The joy on Prince’s face was unmistakable as he screamed his guitar higher and higher while buckets of rain came down on him. It was something you never see anywhere, let alone on TV: pure happiness. And tens of millions of people swayed along to his by then familiar ballad about the hope of finding something better in this world.
That was all of us at our best.
The world we live in today may have just become too angry for someone like Prince. If that’s the case, maybe it’s our turn to look inward and apologize. At the very least we should recognize what we lost yesterday. Goodbye to Prince, who was the best of us.
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