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Sex, God, race, class: Prince told my story

(CNN)“Aristocrats on a mountain climb / Making money, losing time / Communism is just a word / But if the government turn over / It’ll be the only word that’s heard / America, America / God shed his grace on thee.”

Have you heard this Prince song? It’s titled “America” and is from the 1985 album “Around the World in a Day,” which was released exactly 31 years ago today. In the era of the crack epidemic, the alleged war on drugs, HIV/AIDS, and Reaganomics, which pushed the country’s national debt into the trillions, Prince made pointed critiques about American life.

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    The theme of “Temptation” reminded me of 1981’s “Controversy,” where he sang, “Am I straight or gay? / Controversy / Do I believe in God, do I believe in me?” The passion of “Temptation” and “Controversy” were my stories and Prince made me feel not so alone.
    For hours, I would stare at the cover of the “Around the World in a Day” album, mesmerized by the image of a woman who had a condition of the heart, the young boy flying on a balloon and the man in all black clenching his tambourine.
    I imagined that was exactly what Paisley Park would be, a space of interconnecting stories. But the image that I could never forget was the ladder in the center of the album cover, which referred to my favorite song on “Around the World in a Day.” In “The Ladder” Prince sang, “Everybody’s looking 4 the ladder / Everybody’s looking 4 the answers / How the story started and how it will end / What’s the use in half a story, half a dream / U have 2 climb all of the steps in between.”
    In my lowest of moments, the gospel-type song would free me. Whether it was sex, God, race, or class, Prince brilliantly manifested my own story on the nine songs in “Around the World in a Day.” Prince gave me agency to exist in the deepest sense of myself — at any cost.
    Maybe that’s how it was for you, too.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/22/opinions/prince-around-the-world-in-a-day-cane/index.html