Remembering A Musician Who Touched All of Our Lives

06/07/2017 04:52 pm ET

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Today would have been the 59th birthday of Prince Rogers Nelson, known mostly to the world simply as “Prince.” He was an enigmatic figure to be sure, but a creative genius nonetheless. Not only did he sing countless mainstream hits such as “Purple Rain” and “Raspberry Beret,” he also played numerous instruments, and wrote most of his material.

Several years ago when he was on tour, I remember a friend of mine going to see him at the IZOD Center in New Jersey and remarking that it was one of the greatest live events he had ever seen. Prince had that effect on a lot of people, even dazzling the world one year with his talents during the Superbowl halftime show.

Funny enough, Prince was on my mind recently when I overheard a heated political argument between two strangers. I didn’t know these two people and had no idea how they knew each other, but the discussion was so intense that I had to walk away from the area for fear that violence was going to erupt. I honestly don’t even remember the specifics of the argument other than I heard the words “Donald Trump” and “Russia” at some point.

So why did this make me think of Prince? Because I remember a similar heated debate between two people I actually do know – two dear friends of mine – during the Clinton impeachment years ago. One of them was insistent that Clinton be removed from office while the other shouted that the whole thing was a right-wing conspiracy.

I remember things seeming like they might get out of control when the Prince song, “When Doves Cry” began playing on the radio and everybody just stopped to listen. Granted, it was only for a few minutes, but those few minutes of ceasefire were a mighty splendid thing. Some point later that day my friends went back to arguing, but those few minutes of Prince music really mellowed a situation that seemed like it was about to get very ugly.

And I guess that as part of why even though I was never as big of a Prince fan as some others, I always respected his talent, showmanship, and ability to connect with people. If you think about it, that’s the true beauty of music: if a song is good, it doesn’t matter who you are. You could be any race, gender, sexual orientation or religion and have at least a brief moment of common ground with somebody you might otherwise want to spend your day screaming at.

I thought about that today when it was pointed out to me that today would’ve been Prince’s 59th birthday. I thought about how much I wished more people would think about what they have in common rather than fighting over what divides them. And I thought about how much we could use Prince’s creative genius to help people mellow out – if only for a few minutes – and remember that just because you may disagree with somebody, doesn’t make him evil. Hell, he may even like the same Prince song as you!

Comedian Chris Rock joked this morning that schools should be closed for Prince’s birthday, and that may be a bit much. But as somebody who lived through the man’s prime and saw the power of his musical brilliance, I can say with absolutely certainly that the world misses him terribly.

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