Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Purple Rain. Purple Rain.

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I learned about Prince’s death during the 2-hour wait to board the ferry from Vancouver to Victoria. I was still basking in the residual glow and euphoria of the Paul McCartney concert that my oldest daughter (OD) and I went to the night before.

Imagine, not only breathing the same air as the ‘cute’ Beatle, but singing along with him. And twenty thousand other people but it felt like he was there just for me. Until Wednesday night singing along to these particular songs only ever happened in the privacy of my upstairs bedroom at 204, where I pretended he was right there with me. Picture it. I’m sixteen years old, lying flat on my back on the floor, eyes closed, the LP Rubber Soul blaring from my record player and I am in teenage heaven.

It was the concert to end all concerts for me. A lifelong rock ‘n roll dream that I never really thought would come true. Shit like that didn’t happen to small-town girls raised in blue-collar neighborhoods from the middle of Nowhere Land. It just didn’t.

But there I was decades later grooving to one of my teenage idols. It was surreal.

It was equally surreal to be sitting in a ferry line-up and flipping through Instagram only to see a photo of my office wall come into my feed. The photo was taken by my youngest daughter (YD) with the caption “Shitty #ripprince #1999.” I immediately commented on her post with, “What?!”

In utter disbelief, I quickly typed #RIPPRINCE in the Instagram search bar. And sadly, post after post, photo after photo appeared with the same message. It rained purple tears.

I went to see Purple Rain with my oldest daughter (OD), the one who treated me to the Paul McCartney concert. She was six at the time. A bit young for a movie experience like that, I know. Please don’t judge. I’ve done plenty of self-condemnation over the past decades, so no need. I’ve taken care of that business for you.

But in my defense, feeble as my case may be, I was irrefutably out of my right mind at the time. I was freshly separated from my husband. My life was more than messy. It was a washout, a calamity of cataclysmic proportions. To say I wasn’t thinking clearly and not making the best decisions, would be putting it politely.

The thing was I loved Prince’s music and I thought he was beautiful and mysterious and sexy and an extraordinary musician. When Purple Rain came out in the summer of 1984, I really wanted to see it. We were living in Toronto. I was a newly minted single mother. I felt alone. Abandoned. Forsaken. Forgotten. And friendless. And by friendless, I mean no babysitter.

So I did what I thought was a good idea at the time. I took my not-yet-six-year-old daughter to see Purple Rain.

Over the years I have been plagued with guilt and have had many regrets about that decision. Questioned my sanity. Pondered the wisdom and prudence of my behavior. Lost sleep worrying that I had scarred her for life. Turned her into a music junkie. A lover of screaming guitar licks. Fostered a penchant for all-things purple. Inspired her to wear platform shoes.

Who knows what horrors I may have unleashed upon my innocent child that Saturday afternoon when we boarded the Dufferin Street bus and headed north to the Yorkdale Mall? No child, we were not going shopping. We were going to the movies. And not some run-of-the-mill bland Disney thing either. We were going to a cinematic and historic event. An epic musical phenomenon.

We were going to see Prince in Purple Rain.

The day after Prince died I texted my oldest daughter (OD) and asked her what she recalled of that movie-going experience and how it had affected her.

She texted the following:

“It was great to see Purple Rain as a kid. What stands out: the skinny-dipping scene and the fight he has with his father. Wanting to be on the back of his motorcycle. Jimmy Jam. How fun they were performing onstage.”

And then she texted this:

“I wouldn’t feel guilty. It was a good thing and a fond memory!”

Maybe, just maybe, I wasn’t such a bad mother after all.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Power of Music.

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Lately every time I hear two particular songs on the truck radio, one particular person comes to mind. My first big love. You know what I’m talking about. The one you’ll never forget. Ever. No matter how hard you try. No matter how many times you tell yourself you’re a fool to feel this way. A foolish young girl then. An equally foolish old broad now.

I’ve also learned recently that time has no affect on this kind of love.

Chances are, I might never have realized just how big a deal this guy was to me had I not bought a truck. And had that truck not come loaded with six-months worth of Sirius Radio. And in case you’re wondering, six months is just long enough to become addicted to the billions of stations Sirius carries. You name it; they’ve got a station for that. Let’s just say I’ve listened to a lot of good music over the past five years.

Last summer I discovered a station called The Bridge. This station features mellow classic rock and ‘70s folk rock. There’s a lot of acoustic stuff from guys like Jackson Browne and James Taylor. I had no idea I liked their music so much until I started tuning into The Bridge.

In addition to discovering a ton of fabulous old-new music, I’ve also taken a few trips back to another era in my life, all the while driving in this one. It was bound to happen. I’d hear a song or two that reminded me of him. Ones that would fill my spirit with doleful lamentations and serve as poignant reminders that even the passage of time and tornadoes, the heart simply remembers what the head discards with yesterdays old love letters.

The first song, the happier memory-maker of the two, is Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed. I say this one is happier only because this song was from the beginning of our affair with love. Picture this. A darkened room lit only by a single candle stuck into the top of a Chianti bottle, the kind with the fiasco basket, with rivers of wax dripping down onto the table. This was a classic ‘70s mood-setter. Now tune your ears to this. He puts Maybe I’m Amazed on his record player and says, “This song is how I feel about you. I think of you every time I hear it.” Nice. I was intoxicated. Not only by his earnest declaration of love, that was beyond anything I could have ever imagined, but by the Chianti. I was seriously drunk. Which explains why I thought something like this, “I must be amazing if a guy as cute and popular and sexy as him, feels this way about me. And he played the piano just like Paul McCartney. How did I get so lucky?”

So Maybe I’m Amazed is the happy ‘in the beginning, everything is new and wonderful, once upon a time fairytale’ song.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MWrGSa-Asdk

And then there’s Carole King’s It’s Too Late. Picture this. It’s the middle of summer. It’s stinking hot and humid in Northwestern Ontario. I’m pregnant with my first big love’s child. And we’ve split the sheets. As in gone our separate ways. Or more accurately, he’s gone touring and my heart has gone in about a million separate ways. Now tune your ears to this. The phone rings. I pick it up. Hear my first big love’s voice on the other end. My heart momentarily lifts to glorious angelic heights. “He wants me back,” I hopefully (and foolishly) think. Then he says this, “I thought of you today. That Carole King song, It’s Too Late came on the radio this afternoon.” I don’t remember a word he said after that. I just remember putting down the phone and lying in the middle of my bedroom floor on my back, staring up at the ceiling. And bawling my fucking brains out. My life was over. Of course, it wasn’t. It just felt that way.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5TxpJVKKQ8

Eventually I picked myself up off the floor and started the life that would lead to the life I have today. One filled with music. And love. And love of music.

There you have it. Drive time. Two beautiful piano songs accompanied by two bittersweet memories.

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