A letter ‘U’ for ‘you’ and a picture of an eye for an ‘I’

When celebrating the life of an artist like Prince, it is impossible to discuss all the ways his influence impacted pop culture, the music industry and culture at large.

I didn’t know the man, and I unfortunately never got to attend one of his live performances, but I can easily see the influence his presence in the world had on fans and outsiders alike. He really exemplified the idea of being true to oneself, not conforming to a pre-determined ideological concept formed by societal norms. He didn’t conform to the stereotypical constructs of one race, one gender or one genre of music. Like David Bowie, Prince represented hope for a lot of people—he was celebrated just the way he was and the way he lived was uniquely… Prince.

Since I’m just getting started with this blog, it may be surprising to some of you that I would go in a seemingly un-related direction with this post. I want to be able to discuss music in general, with the lens of Gilmore Girls at my foundation. So here we are, talking about the loss of a musical legend who never contributed a single note to the soundtrack, and for a very good reason: he was very active in the licensing of his music, making it more difficult for producers to use his music on television shows and in film.

Not that he didn’t want his music to be licensed. Let me explain:

Prince has had a reputation of being the master of his work, having built a particular method for distribution and rights-management. He wanted to have some control when it came to his own image and art. You won’t find his music on streaming services like Spotify or Apple Music. That’s because Prince licensed his music to only be streamable on the subscription service Tidal, where he could have more control over the way his music was broadcast and consumed by his fans. He described his reasoning, wanting his music to be more personal than a computer-generated portal: “That’s the problem with these formats is that there’s a lot of laziness out there. They have to do so much, so a lot of times it’s just a program. It’s an algorithm. I didn’t want to be a part of that.”

So while Prince’s music may not have appeared on Gilmore Girls, there are countless mentions of the man himself, a small nod to the major influence he had on pop culture.

S2E10 “The Bracebridge Dinner”:

PARIS: Madeline’s 500 words on test anxiety spends 400 of them arguing that stretch corduroy is the best material for low-rise jeans.
… Call if you need to talk things through, and oh – she uses the Prince version of writing. A letter U for you and a picture of an eye for an I.

S4E6 “An Affair to Remember”:

LORELAI: Yes, it is a gig. It’s Prince opening for the Rolling Stones. That’s the kind of gig it is.

S4E15 “Scene in A Mall”:

LORELAI: Oh, it’s this ad we’re doing for the inn. The drawing of the inn came out purple, like eggplant, like Prince chose the color.

S5E22 “A House is Not a Home”:

MRS. KIM: Oh, please. Prince made fifty-seven million take home last year. He didn’t swear, and he mentioned God. Catch up.

This is all without verifying which songs that did end up making up the actual soundtrack of Gilmore Girls that Prince may have had a hand in creating… He was a very active writer, and wrote many songs that he never recorded himself, eventually handing several over to other artists or groups under a pseudonym. One such song was a Bangles hit: “Manic Monday,” which Prince reportedly offered to the band after being impressed with the song “Hero Takes a Fall.”

We all remember the season 1 episode, Concert Interruptus, where Rory brings her new Chilton friends to a Bangles concert in New York. A more direct reference to this particular Bangles hit written by Prince happens during “Norman Mailer, I’m Pregnant!” in season 5: Lorelai sings “Just another manic Monday…”to baby Gigi as Christopher goes to shower for the first time in days, due to being a newly single parent.

Prince was known as a collaborative and supportive artist, often showing up to help in the studio, encouraging covers of his work by others and co-writing with the likes of Madonna (“Love Song”) and Stevie Nicks (“Stand Back”). His influence is far-reaching and genre-bending. The impact of Prince’s work has come to light even more in the past 24 hours as increasing numbers of artists, community leaders and friends post stories of the man and his legacy.

He will be missed, but he will never be forgotten. His influence is here to stay.

Prince, Tom Petty, Steve Winwood, Jeff Lynne and others perform “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” at the 2004 Hall of Fame Inductions. http://rockhall.com/

From K.M. McFarland on Wired:

“The 2004 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony kicked off with Prince performing “Let’s Go Crazy,” “Kiss,” and “Sign o’ the Times,” but it was his axe-wielding for the tribute to George Harrison that truly stole the show. Performing “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” alongside former Traveling Wilburys members Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne—as well as Harrison’s son Dhani—Prince breaks into his solo about three and a half minutes into the song. It could’ve been a somber sequence, but his guitar work is so incendiary that by the end of the song, everyone on stage is smiling at each other in awe.”

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