They’ve been talking about hundreds, perhaps thousands of unreleased song tracks by recording artist Prince since his death a couple of days ago. Thousands of songs, recorded at odd times: sometimes after concerts, sometimes on weekends, any time he had a creative moment. It was getting to the point when his management, during tours, would plot out on global positioning satellites the routes to nearby recording studios if he ever got an urge to commit something to tape.
I got an insight into this a few months ago when sifting through my father’s stack of pages and papers after he died. Of course, much of what he had were various newspaper articles and even a letter from one of his mentors when he was a teenager.
But he also had several legal pads, loose-leaf papers, and a nondescript page-a-day calendar. Written on those pages in ink were words in Spanish and English, organized (somewhat) by line. Never anything that rhymed, but it was all in free verse.
My father, in addition to being a clergyman for four decades, was a self-styled poet. For the most part, he limited his poetry to our birthdays and to Christmas and Easter inserts in the church bulletin. He did write other poems on everything from our pet cat to the arguments that emanated from the neighbors’ house down the block.
Late in life, however, he seemed to wax prolific. He wrote down ideas for poems, scratching out lines and adding others in increasingly more frienzied handwriting.
It kind of reminds you of a Mozart, late in life, scraping together all of the necessary parts together for the opera The Magic Flute, and even an unfinished requiem.
Or a Minnesota musical prodigy putting down musical ideas on tape.
Papa’s poetry is collected and will likely make up a second compact disc of his works; my cousin put together a CD for his 80th birthday celebration called “My Life’s Stanzas.” And it deserves a sequel.