Sign O’ The Times

On August 17 1993, a lifetime ago, me and the three people that were the closest to me at the time (one of them is still my best friend), drove to Santiago de Compostela to see “The Artist formerly known as Prince”. I think he had played in Lisbon the day before or was going to the day after but Santiago is closer to Porto and the tickets were considerably cheaper in Spain.

Before the European funded highways and the open borders that made life so much simpler for a while, traffic in Porto was chaotic and someone ended up bumping our car from behind at the still today chaotic “Rotunda dos Produtos Estrela”. I remember we all got out of the car shouting at this poor man that we had to go to Spain and he was going to make us late. He didn’t. The car didn’t even have a dent.

We drove first to Viana do Castelo to pick up the fourth element of our little pilgrimage. We actually managed not to get lost driving in Santiago and had to park the car some 2 km away from the venue. And then we hiked up hill and reached Monte do Gozo all sweaty and scratched and waited around for that magic moment when Prince finally showed himself on stage and the concert started.

Monte do Gozo is known for being the place where Christian pilgrims on the Camino de Santiago  get their first views of the three spires of their destination, the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. At 370 metres (1,210 ft),it is the pilgrims’ last hill and last stop before reaching the cathedral, with about an hour’s walk still to go, and by tradition is where they cry out in rapture at finally seeing the end of their path.

For us, it was also the end of a journey although it felt like the beginning of a new way of living. It was the perfect setting for a perfect experience, we walked down hill back to the car feeling whole in the way that only music you love can make you feel. We drove back singing Purple Rain as loud as we could and in the early hours of the morning waited for the “Pastelaria Fãozense” to open so we could eat some “clarinhas” (traditional squash pastry). The 229th day of 1993 was a perfect day. As far as I can remember, all the days of the summer of 1993, spent between Porto and Viana, lying in the sun and dancing the night away, where perfect.

Prince Setlist Monte do Gozo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain 1993, Act II

Today, according  to a friend who is counting time post by post on her Facebook timeline, is the 110th day of a year that I feel I don’t want to experience anymore. If the sense of loss of humanity seems to invade our life with every news report of people being washed ashore while others sunbathe, of stranded lifes in filthy refugee camps and of horror stories behind closed doors, today this sense of loss runs deeper. Not because some lifes seem to be more important.  Some people’s talent just transform the world into a place where you actually want to be.

In the midst of collective mourning, the loss of someone who composed my “coming of age soundtrack”, after I understood that while I have a somewhat melancholic personality, I am not depressive enough to embrace darker tunes, is also deeply personal.  And sometimes you don’t even see it, you’re too busy hurrying so you get somewhere before it’s too late. And you never get anywhere. You have just left the sign of the times mess up with your mind.

In days like today I realize that I locked away a part of what I have lived and that I will not be able to recover it. In days like today I fear that the world is becoming flat again. And square.

Take me to the streets of Portugal
That might be my destiny to see the waterfall
Tears or rain, they’re all the same
The only way to win this game
To let everybody play and share the ball


Sign O’ The Times (1987) and Lavaux (2010)

Photo:  Backstage Auditorio do Monte do Gozo, Santiago de Compostela, Spain – August 17th, 1993 via The Prince Army

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