Who Will Grow Old With Us: Living in a World Without a Prince

US singer and musician Prince (born Prince Rogers Nelson) performs on stage at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, outside Paris, on June 30, 2011.
Prince, born Prince Rogers Nelson, died after being found unresponsive in his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota on Thursday, April 21, 2016. He was 57 years old. (Photo: BERTRAND GUAY/AFP/Getty Images)

Who is going to grow old with us?

Who is going to sing the songs for our final decades, rich with the experience of our times yet electric with the echo of our youth?

Who will sing songs and know that they are not young, and forever never to be young again? Who will sing songs and not be afraid to grow wise and sad and even childish with the awareness that the weight of time is tilted against them?

Who, of those sages we grew up and now old with, will dare to sing of September, October, November, December?

September is now gone, October falling away fast, and I say, nostalgia isn’t enough to live on, so aging baby-faced Beatles won’t do. We don’t want a denial. Bruce, vital and toothy and bursting with muscle, he is the impossible disavowal of our slowing gait and sloping back. Who will look us in the eye and go with us from the pink light of sunset to the sea-purple of night? Who will look at us with the saddest half-smile and sing of brutal age, the still-beautiful shades of day, the shimmer in our eyes of the love that has outlasted the shrieks of time?

Who will be ours, as we grow old?

I am talking to you, perhaps the wrong side of a half-century. You have just come to realize that youth is a foreign country, and you no longer have a passport. Even your best memories have turned from film to flip book to flash, full of error. We suffered from the 20th century’s unique sickness, the graceful yet garish gift of the Pepsi Generation and the hippies and the plump-lipped, slim-hipped British: we thought we would never age.

RIP Prince.
RIP Prince. YouTube

We believed that the young world would stride with us, and keep us close.

With a cold sweat (and a chill on our fingertips where we grasped that perspiring Pabst just a little too long), we have recognized that impermanence caught up with us.

We suddenly looked in the mirror and were shocked to find the creases of our fathers. We noticed the pinch of the black jeans at our waist, and each and every one of us said to ourselves (often in secret), “I remember my dad at this age, I can see him so clearly! And I know what he looked like to me, and I know how I looked at him when he was this age, when I was 24 and fierce and full of the City.” I looked at him when he was the precise age I am now, and I saw a lesser prince of the suburbs, and I shuddered, and pitied him, and thought how unlikely his happiness was.

Who will sing to me about that?

Who will be the singers who grow old with us?

Who Will Grow Old With Us: Living in a World Without a Prince