Most of my weekend was dedicated to binge watching anything Prince I could find. He lived and died in my eyes more myth than man, his passing left me with a yearning to understand who he was beyond the stories of magnificent mischief. I especially regretted missing one of his last performances in Atlanta, it will be a regret I’ll have to deal with until the Bugatti’s become time machines. The day he died, my mom, my dad, my aunts, my phone was ringing with all these sad and distraught voices who wanted to know if it was true, if Prince was really gone.
They inspired me to find out more, so I listened to Ebro run through the classics during his Beats 1 radio show, asked Nathan to suggest the essential songs that I needed, found a bar that was spinning only Prince the night he died, downloaded and signed up for TIDAL just to browse his immense catalog, and opened over 20 tabs of articles honoring his life and times. There was so much to hear, so much to read, so much to learn, you realize you’re researching a great man only once you dig beyond the surface. It's like entering a museum with infinite doors full of art. There was a phrase that was being quoted and used in headlines that I didn’t quite understand, “It Sometimes Snows In April.”
There weren't any snowflakes fluttering from the clouds this month but the passing of Prince felt even more unnatural. This is a man who never appeared a day over 30, it was almost expected that he would avoid the reaper with the same effortless grace that he wrote amazing music. To some his untimely death was a sign that the last days were upon us, that sometime snow really does fall in April. It wasn’t until D’Angelo appeared on Jimmy Fallon yesterday that it occurred to me that the poetic phrase wasn’t just some ancient proverb that represents a chilling death during the warmth of spring but a song by Prince.
D’Angelo sits at the grand piano illuminated in purple, backed up by Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum's cover band. From his lips comes this beautiful song illustrating a man grieving over the death of his only friend. It was my first time hearing the song but I could feel the weight of its meaning. His voice is soulful and melancholy, you can feel the touch of sadness bouncing off every key, every note, every word, cloaking him. It’s incredible that this song was released in 1986 and now it’s being used to say goodbye to the very man who wrote it.
One lyric is changed, where Prince would sing, “I often dream of heaven and I know that Tracy's there,” instead, D'Angelo replaces Tracy with Prince. It’s the only time in the song he makes the alteration, mentioning the legend by name, referencing his passing and afterwards you can see the hurt in his face. He takes a deep breath but the next line doesn’t come out, as if someone just snatched the words straight from his mouth, he needs a moment, on the verge of tears. Maya and Gretchen come in to fill the silence, but it’s that moment when you can physically see the weight of Prince passing. After reading all the tweets and stories, it’s that moment I felt like I saw how the world felt when his death was confirmed. That’s what snow in April looks like.
Like a true performer, he regains his composure and completes the song with the same tenderness that he begun it with. D’Angelo’s tribute is beautiful, sad, and very important for anyone like myself who is slowly realizing what Prince meant to the world. He was much more than a singer, but it’s songs like “Sometimes It Snows in April” that will make him immortal for generations to come.
Each and everyone of us will be Tracy to someone and have our own Tracy, but there will only be one Prince.
Yoh, aka The Writer Formerly Known As Yoh , aka @Yoh31.