Paisley Park: lonely palace or insightful museum?

Paisley ParkPaisley Park stands beside a highway in a quiet suburb some distance from Minneapolis. If you’ve been living under a rock or are too young to know much, you might not know that this is where legendary musician Prince lived and made music, and where he died in April 2016. Prince was arguably the most gifted and accomplished musician in popular music of the 20th and early 21st century. Without doubt he can claim the title of most prolific. In 1987 he constructed the 65,000 square foot complex, named after one of his songs that described a place of “profound inner peace.” Reporter Amanda Petrusich visited Paisley Park and described her experience for The New Yorker (June 25, 2018). Seeking to better understand the enigmatic genius, she came away disappointed by the experience, which evoked the sensation “of being near Prince, but never quite with him.”

Indeed, there have always been contradictions about Prince, and he held the world at arm’s length. He tried to prevent his collaborators from talking about him to the press. He obfuscated aspects about his past. One of his earlier songs, “Controversy,” explicitly reveled in the ambiguities. I completely understand the point Petrusich makes. But I went to Paisley Park as a musician, wanting to appreciate its singular musical environment. For me, it offered a look behind the scenes and didn’t disappoint.

Paisley Park—a Palace Dedicated to Music Making

In October 2016, Prince’s heirs opened Paisley Park as a museum. As one of its first visitors, I wrote about my VIP tour in the blog post XXX. Petrusich also took the VIP tour. If you plan to visit, I recommend shelling out the money for the VIP tour, despite its expense. Otherwise you miss some of the most interesting areas such as the recording studios. Petrusich notes that the external architecture is unremarkable. Quite true. The interior space contains the magic of the design. Essentially a palace dedicated to music making, Paisley Park comprises recording studios, concert hall, video editing room, the music vault, and assorted offices and work spaces.

I enjoyed reading Petrusich’s article. Definitely heed her warning. If you plan to visit, go with the right expectations. Don’t expect to pierce the mystery of Prince. Don’t expect to understand his life. But if you want to see the space that gave birth to so much amazing music and pay homage, you will enjoy the experience.

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