Sometimes it snows in April.
Sometimes I feel so bad (so bad).
Sometimes I wish that life was never ending —
But all good things, they say, never last.
After Mark Brown, Bobby Z., and Dr. Fink left the stage, Wendy exchanged her electric guitar for an acoustic. A murmur passed through the crowd as Lisa shifted in her seat behind the keyboard.
“Well, Prince — ” Wendy trailed off having to lower her mic, “Prince was my friend.”
A few glasses clinked at the bar. A voice or two seemed to jab louder than the rest.
“When we were thinking — when we were thinking of what songs to do — ”
Some people tried to stop anyone else from speaking.
“I’m about to tell you something — I’m about to tell you something I’ve said a few times now, but I don’t know if everyone here in the room knows it.”
Wendy’s was the only voice now.
“Try and let — try and let this land for a second. The night Prince died — April 21st — Lisa, Prince, and I many years before on that same night wrote Sometimes It Snows in April.”
The gasping was audible, as if Wendy’s words were fire extracting all the oxygen from the room. Someone beside me mumbled “Oh god,” or maybe it was me.
She resumed. “Yeah. So when we were thinking of what songs to do for a tour — what was our intention? What would we be doing them for? It was because of coincidences like that we felt we needed to bring them to you guys.”
A rupture of “yeahs” and applause broke out all around. She maneuvered to speak, then quickly changed her thought.
“What happens now — what happens now even to The Revolution is HE sits in all of us. HE sits in all of us.”
Again a chorus of “yeahs.” Clapping burst out in pockets.
“So when I’m personally recording something new I think to myself: ‘Would HE like this? Would HE think this is any good?’ And many of you out there might be wondering — you might be wondering what if you got to meet Prince: ‘Would HE like me?’ Well, I’m sure HE would.”
People clamored “Thank you, Wendy! Thanks for doing this!” and I swear the humidity continued to climb. I pushed the hair back off my brow and was surprised to touch sweat.
“So we’re doing this — we’re doing this song tonight so we all have some place to land. That’s what I’d think HE’d want. HE’d want us to have some place to land.”
Wendy backed off the mic. She plucked her guitar carefully as Lisa tried to sync up. But, suddenly, she stopped.
The sound of Lisa’s keyboard was deafening. Wendy was lost. I stood in the crowd motionless, trying to will her forward. I’d never seen a performer so unsure about what she’d just committed herself to. She shut her eyes.
A few beats later, and perhaps because Prince himself swept down to stand with her, Wendy returned to strumming. Her notes dovetailed with Lisa’s as she drifted toward the mic again and sang:
“Tracy died soon after a long fought — civil war. Just after I wiped away his last — tears — ”
Lyrics from “Sometimes It Snows in April” by Prince, Lisa Coleman, and Wendy Melvoin, 1986.
Photos by Rick Stachura. April 28, 2017.
(1) + (2) Wendy and Lisa of The Revolution at B. B. King’s.
(This story was originally posted to my old Tumblr site on May 27, 2017.)