Author: Joyce Millman

How Prince Brought Unlikely Music Fans Together – and Turned Us Purple

The world turned purple when Prince died. Civic buildings and bridges in his Minneapolis home town and around the world were awash in his signature color. On Saturday night, heading out of San Francisco south on highway 280, with Sirius XM’s Prince tribute channel on the radio, we passed a suburban mall’s roadside message board flashing Prince’s glyph, the control tower and international terminal of San Francisco International Airport glowing purple ahead of us in the distance. As a fragmented society, we agree on so little, culturally. But we agree on Prince. And we agree on how to celebrate him. By allying himself so inextricably with a color (and, later, a symbol — turns out, he was a branding genius), Prince left us with a natural way to express our grief and love for him in the public space, writ large and without words. It may feel like no artist’s passing has ever been so publicly and universally mourned , but that’s not entirely true. When John Lennon was murdered in 1980, the shock of it …

The Thrill Isn’t Gone: Learning Guitar in My 40s

Like most of us, I’ve always kept a list of goals and ambitions in my head. When I was 10, I wanted a pony and an Academy Award. So much for that. But some of the items on my list now have a check mark beside them (get published, visit England), and as for the others, well… my garden is almost ready for its close-up, Sunset Magazine. Those are the dreams I’ve admitted to, when asked. But I also keep a second list, double-padlocked and held close to the heart, of dreams that are too private to divulge, for fear of being laughed at, or worse, being expected to follow through. For most of my life, the same dream sat at the top of my super-secret to-do list: Learn how to play the guitar. It seems like a perfectly mundane goal, well within reach, unlike that Palomino I was going to keep in the driveway. But I couldn’t make myself speak my guitar obsession aloud, let alone actually do something about it. Whenever I had …