15 Lessons From Prince To Guide You Through This Thing Called Life

He didn’t especially love doing interviews, but when he did speak, it was always worth listening.

April 22, 2016
15 Lessons From Prince To Guide You Through This Thing Called Life Pascal George / AFP / Getty Images

Prince didn’t especially love giving interviews, but we are grateful for the times he deigned to. “Some in the past have taken my voice and sold it,” he once told Billboard, “I can't remember the incident that triggered it and it's probably best that I don't.” More often than not, what he would allow on record was well worth paying attention to. Proof in point, below are 15 quotes pulled from interviews over the years that double as sage life advice.


1. Follow your heart always.

“I want to make heart decisions in business. If you can't do that, you're not free. I want to be able to dictate which way I'm going to go.”—Rolling Stone, 2011

2. Your number one priority should be getting to know yourself.

“When you have that...you know who you are, and you know what your name is. I didn't know that before. I thought there were places I had to get to. I thought there were things I had to do. I was a lot more competitive because of it. Now I realize that's not what's important.”—Details, 1991

3. Don’t pay any mind to the haters.

“They didn't get Van Gogh, did they?”—Details, 1991

4. If and when given the opportunity, speak your truths.

“I don't consider myself a great poet, or interpreter à la Moses. I just know I'm here to say what's on my mind, and I'm in a position where I can do that. It would be foolish for me to make up stories about going to Paris, knocking off the queen and things of that nature.”—Rolling Stone, 1983

5. Value and strive for diversity.

“There was a lot of pressure from my ex-buddies in other bands not to have white members in the band. But I always wanted a band that was black and white. Half the musicians I knew only listened to one type of music. That wasn't good enough for me.”—Rolling Stone, 1983

6. Be weary of any contract that disregards your personal interests.

“Record contracts are just like—I'm gonna say the word—slavery. I would tell any young artist... don't sign... Once we have our own resources, we can provide what we need for ourselves. … Jay Z spent $100 million of his own money to build his own service. We have to show support for artists who are trying to own things for themselves.”—NPR, 2015

7. When possible, be your own boss.

“Despite everything, no one can dictate who you are to other people. Alicia Keys gets it. All these hip-hop artists, the first thing they do is start their own label and lock their business down—we had a lot to do with that.”—Rolling Stone, 2011

15 Lessons From Prince To Guide You Through This Thing Called Life Pascal George / AFP / Getty Images
8. If you don’t like what you've got, make yourself something that you do like.

“I like music to play in my car, and when I need something new to play I record something. Instead of buying a tape, I make music.”—Details, 1991

9. There are no accidents.

“There are no accidents. And if there are, it's up to us to look at them as something else. And that bravery is what creates new flowers.”—Details, 1991

10. Don’t fear boundaries.

“It's fun being in Islamic countries, to know there's only one religion. There's order. You wear a burqa. There's no choice. People are happy with that...If I go to a place where I don't feel stressed and there's no car alarms and airplanes overhead, then you understand what noise pollution is. Noise is a society that has no God, that has no glue. We can't do what we want to do all the time. If you don't have boundaries, what then?”—The Guardian, 2011

11. Embrace analogue.

“I personally can't stand digital music. You're getting sound in bits. It affects a different place in your brain. When you play it back, you can't feel anything. We're analogue people, not digital.”—The Guardian, 2011

12. Don’t forget you have an expiration date.

“I feel at peace. I knew it would take time, and I had to deal with a lot of ridicule. But this feels like peace right now. Spiritually I feel very different from the way I used to, but physically? Not at all. I don't look at time that way, and I don't believe in age. When you wake up, each day looks the same, so each day should be a new beginning. I don't have an expiration date.”—Rolling Stone, 2011

13. Don’t trust critics.

“There's a lot of things that critics don't understand. Like the second song in our set is a track called "Jam," and what people don't realise is that in America that's the number one track at house parties. Now, the audience know that, they've respect that! But that's not something that most critics are down with, you know what I'm saying? So when people say I make too many records, I just show them the Aretha Franklin catalogue in the '60s, when she made a new record every four months.”—Time Out, 1995

14. Remember that sacrifices are often worthwhile.

“I decided that things like family don't have a big part to play in my future. I'm dedicated to music, to the point that I see all of life through it.”—Time Out, 1995

15. Respect your audience and they will hold you down.

“When you don’t talk down to your audience, then they can grow with you. I give them a lot of credit to be able to hang with me this long, because I’ve gone through a lot of changes, but they’ve allowed me to grow, and thus we can tackle some serious subjects and try to just be better human beings, all of us.”—American Songwriter, 2016

15 Lessons From Prince To Guide You Through This Thing Called Life