His Royal Badness, The Purple One and the Artist Formerly Known As…, are not names that one picks up by chance. A collection of Prince’s aliases will tell you pretty much all you need to know about his career in pop music. Prince never sat still, a serial creator and optimised innovator, never followed the herd, and certainly never did anything anyone could label “expected”. Instead, he lived to defy those expectations and, throughout his impressive career, managed to do just that.
Tragically dying way too early in 2016, Prince left a sea of fans bereft by the loss. Like another massive star who sadly died that year, David Bowie, the weight of Prince’s artistry will be felt for decades to come. His ability to continually evolve his work and his sound was the kind of feat few can even attempt, let alone pull off. It was a sense of daring and a propensity to challenge himself to connect with his feelings and his audience, something that he would even employ at his funeral, choosing a relatively obscure but emotionally potent song to work as his final crescendo.
There’s a good chance that you have yourself picked out a ‘funeral song’ — the track you want to be played as you complete your final moments on the earth. Sometimes they can be wholesome and comforting for those left behind; sometimes, they can be irreverent or funny and determined to engage those mourners in a chance to smile. For Prince, it was a chance to pay tribute to his family.
There was always a good chance that Prince would have greenlit his music being played at his funeral. While some might see it as self-aggrandising, the truth is, why wouldn’t an artist share the expressions of their lifetime, whether they were captured in a studio or not? For that reason, it would seem, Prince chose to pick out one of his own songs, even if it was a little obscure.
The song was ‘Comeback’, a track poignantly dedicated to Prince’s son Amiir. The acoustic song is a beautifully tender and heart-wrenchingly beautiful lament which sees Prince pay tribute to the son he lost in such tragic circumstances. Ahmir was born with a rare genetic disorder and sadly died seven days after birth. Released as part of the fan club only release The Truth, the obscure track is an emotionally charged one that said a lot about Prince’s character.
Featuring heartbreaking lyrics such as: “If you ever lose someone dear to you / Never say the words ‘they’re gone’ / They’ll come back,” the song was a deliberate moment of connection for Prince. While Prince never really approached Amiir’s death in any public sense, only once referring to death itself in 2014, telling Rolling Stone “I don’t think about being gone.”
Instead, Prince left behind the most honest version of himself that he could; his music. With that in our minds, it is easy to see how Prince could use such a moment to tell his family and friends that he would not be lonely in his afterlife.