Terry Dresbach

Outlander Costume Designer

When Doves Cry.



Cruise Journal – Day 11.rtfd

So I fully expected to wake up feeling better about this. I literally kept saying to myself yesterday, “things will feel better tomorrow, it always does”. So why do I feel engulfed in grief and sadness today?

This is not something I do. I do not worship celebrities, not who I am. I have known too many, for one thing, but even before I worked in this business I didn’t. I have never had a picture of one anywhere in my home, unless you count the slightly ironic pics of Keith Richards and Blondie on my fridge. More like pics of attitudes than a person. I’ve never had a picture of Prince on my fridge. So why is this feeling hanging around.

Today, I am retracing my steps.

So I do what I do. I read, I read a lot yesterday about Prince. There is a wealth of material out there now. I read about the spontaneous memorials, I real all the journalists pieces on what he meant to them, to us. I watch the TV coverage obsessively, I talk about him on SM.

Finally, I can’t anymore, and I turn it off. But I am wide awake. I think that maybe I will find solace in acting on Ron’s words about it all, and write up a post on Master Raymond’s costume. Go into the art, there is always a good feed there.That was good, started to feel a bit better. Watched a GIRLS marathon and scanned around the Outlander universe, something I do for distraction on occasion. I read the good and the bad. The good outweighing the bad these days, which is really nice. I also read some of the scraps of negative that are like a pot simmering on the back of the stove. every once in a while, someone lifts the lid and throws something in.

The latest thread, one that perhaps replacing the narrative that I am a drunk, with the new one… that I am socially awkward, and probably need to hire a professional who can manage my interactions on SM, and most importantly craft a more appropriate “professional” persona. I find this much more entertaining although just as ludicrous as the charge of public drunkenness.

But it is enough to put me to sleep, finally. I dream about being a character on GIRLS.

But here I am this morning. Engulfed again. I am forced to examine what exactly did this man mean to me??? What was it that resonated so deeply?

I was a young woman when Prince exploded into my world.

My parents were civil rights activists who felt that you had to walk the walk. So we lived in predominantly African American neighbourhoods as I grew up. I was the little white girl. Actually,I was the ONLY white girl. I “integrated” our neighbourhood school, me, alone, all by myself. Even the white progressive who were active in civil rights, thought my parents were nuts.

But the black community took me under their wing. I was too young to be a threat, or someone that you needed to pull down that screen that was always there when white people showed up. I was sort of invisible and overlooked as kids so often are. But I was included. I went to family gatherings, picnics, church. My best friend’s teenage sisters and their friends got a kick out of teaching me to dance. My parents home was a very political and intellectual place, but very quiet, everyone was reading. My other world was filled with noise, music, it was full of life. I soaked it in, and it formed me.

When I was 13, we moved to Berkeley. The hot seat of political activism. It was the 70s. Martin Luther King and Malcolm X had been assassinated and the Black Panthers were now at the forefront of the civil rights activism. Earth Wind and Fire, Sly, James Brown, Marvin are all over the place. EVERYONE is dancing. We are black, white, brown, yellow. My friends are a rainbow of color and culture. Music and Dancing is the centre of our Universe. By the time I am a HS school senior I have abandoned all pretence of an academic life, because I need to dance. All the time.

Every night, I am in the clubs, on the floor. Still the only white girl, but now rocking hard to George Clinton, Stevie Wonder, but also to the Stones and Bowie. ‘Miss You’ is an enormous hit on the floors of black clubs. It is a whole other kind of integration that is going on. It is no longer just an intellectual and political ideal. We are living it. We are all wild and free, multicultural, on our platform shoes, wild hair flying, it is the biggest house party ever.  It was incredible.

Enter Prince. I suppose you have to be atomic to have the impact he did in a world where huge explosions are happening everywhere. When ‘Come Get to This’ and ‘Atomic Dog’ are pumping, how do you get bigger than that? Well if you are Prince you do. In he comes, glorious, beautiful and brilliant.

What the hell IS he? Mixed, creole?? Do we care? Is he straight, gay, bi? Who cares. No one. He is gorgeous, flamboyant, insanely sexy. And most of all, he is breathtakingly brilliant. you know from the first moment you put For You on your record player. You know you are experiencing something never experienced before. He has not evolved into this being, he has emerged fully formed as this, whatever it is. He is a culmination. He is the genetic offspring of the 60s. the 70s, all the marching, the sit ins, the music, the sex, the drugs, the rock and roll. He opens for The Stones, the greatest white R&B band ever. He is perfect, and he is us. He represents all of us. All of us who are thumping it on the dance floor, who are living openly, exploring, experiencing every aspect of every culture, the music, the food, the art, the life.

I have always been a music junkie. My mother talks about me at two, with my hands placed on the TV screen, swaying back and forth to American Bandstand. My entire childhood is enveloped in music. I subscribe to Rolling Stone at 12, when it is little more than an underground music paper. I have an enormous record collection, holding my own with the boys, because music is a male domain. In adolescence I sneak out to the Filmore Auditorium, smoke my first joint. I stand on the seats in the Berkeley High School Auditorium at 13, watching Jimi play the guitar with his teeth onstage (Jimi plays Berkeley), and Prince, when he shows up in my twenties, just rocks my world, HARD. By this time I know everyone in the San Francisco music scene, which is  thriving. I am making band posters, album covers, trying to eke out a living after art school.

One thing leads to another, and I know members of Prince’s band. I cannot count how many times I saw him in concert.

Everyone is blown away by him. A perfect blend of R&B, funk and rock and roll, again, just like all of us. His band is filled with women musicians. “Women not girls rule my world.” He brings in Latin percussion with Sheila, making the circle complete.

So, not only is he an incredible artist, he is a man of principal and ethics, he is fiercely independent, he is going to do things his own way. He is not going to bend to the commercial interests of corporations. He is going to control his own art. He may be as famous for his willingness to go to the mat for his work. Famously giving up his own NAME rather than control of his music, scrawling SLAVE on his face for public appearances. He refused to give up in the face of the corporatization of the music industry, fighting to the end for the rights of the artists.

So what did he mean to me?

Who am I? I am an artist, first and foremost. I am a product of my time and place. I am part of a generation, who very briefly danced together in the streets, celebrating the victories hard won by brothers and sisters, whose blood ran in those streets where we now danced…together, truly multicultural, gay, straight and everything else in the rainbow.

As the child of union organisers and political activists, I struggle every day as an artist in a corporate world I struggle as a human in a human world. Ron constantly asks me if I could not make everything into one of my “social justice” issues. No, actually, I can’t. I will always struggle against the tide that says we all need to be managed and formed to a polished symmetry that never colors outside the lines. Whose voices and very existence, should be managed and tailored to fit into an expectation. Group think.

Well that ain’t gonna happen. I am going to continue to be me. I’m going to throw elbows at anything or anyone that tries to control me as an artist. I am not going to hire anyone to manage me or my voice. I am going to fight hard against anything like that, big or small. And I am going to play Prince as loud as I can while doing it.

I guess that is what Prince meant to me. That is what he represents, for me. I intend to honour him every day, every single day.  I am going to speak my mind and dance in the streets and on your screens. I am going to party like it’s 1999.



18 thoughts on “When Doves Cry.

  1. sara elizabeth

    This year is cruel. Bowie, Prince, Kanter and Anderson of Jefferson Airplane, Merle Haggard, Phife Dawg, Sinatra Jr, Maurice White, Glenn Frey…….this list is ALREADY TOO LONG and it is only April. I’m gutted

  2. monicaw67

    I’m just devastated, I can’t believe so many from my generation are dying!! Thank you for posting this, it will be a while before I can listen tho.

  3. maggie

    Robert Burns
    Epitaph on my own Friend

    An honest man here lies at rest,
    As e’er God with His image blest:
    The friend of man, the friend of truth;
    The friend of age, and guide of youth:
    Few hearts like his, with virtue warm’d,
    Few heads with knowledge so inform’d:
    If there’s another world, he lives in bliss;
    If there is none, he made the best of this.

  4. Shanaynay

    Godspeed, Prince
    THE Artist.

    Dearly beloved
    We are gathered here today
    To get through this thing called life.
    Electric word life.
    It means forever and that’s a mighty long time.
    But I’m here to tell you
    There’s something else.
    The after world.
    A world of never ending happiness
    You can always see the sun, day or night…
    ‘Cause in this life
    Things are much harder than in the afterworld.
    In this life
    You’re on your own…
    We are all excited.
    But we don’t know why
    Maybe it’s cause
    Were all gonna die.
    And when we do
    What’s it all for?
    You better live now
    Before the grim reaper come knocking on your door.
    Tell me, are we gonna let the elevator bring us down?
    Oh, no let’s go!
    #Prince #letsgocrazy #thePurpleOne #whenthedovescry

  5. delft727

    Don’t leave things unsaid…remember there are no guarantees for tomorrow. I lost my Mother. Six years later I lost my Father. Six months later I lost my Husband. Thank God I learned those lessons by the time my husband passed away. I treasure the memories. He had an autoimmune disease and suffered various illnesses. We didn’t leave things unsaid. So when the Counselor asked if I had any regrets or guilt for things I wish I had said or things I wished I had not said, I could honestly answer “No.” He told me I was very fortunate in that regard because it’s not often people can respond that way.

    Composers write the words. Authors pen the books. Terry posts purple candles with his music. May we heed the lesson.

  6. mque

    Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with us, Terry! You are a true artist & an amazing woman. I hope you’ll continue to find inspiration & continue to inspire others. Sending love.

  7. caroline9

    Terry, I couldn’t have said it better myself. This morning I woke up with Thieves in the Temple running through my head. Maybe because I was listening to it last night, but 1 minute after I woke up, I realized, Oh yeah…Prince is gone. I saw him when I was 19 in concert. Sheila E was with him. Ever since then he was one of my very favorites. My ipod is riddled with his music. I keep hoping the news retracts this story and they say they’ve made a mistake. I would forgive them, just tell me he is still alive. I do not worship celebrities. Prince…he was different. I will miss him, and I will never get used to the fact that he is no longer among the living. You made me feel comforted, Terry. For that I thank you.

  8. KnitzyBlonde

    Great artists give voice to both the big feelings that threaten to consume us and the little tiny ones lying in wait around the edges, indistinct but just as urgent. Great artists reach into their own hearts, minds, and souls to wrench out what’s most vital and hold it out for us to grasp. We do not mourn great artists because they helped us to know who they were, we mourn them because they gave us the ability to know ourselves.


  9. MedusaZ

    You mentioned that you didn’t know why you were reacting to the death of Prince. These are my thoughts that were born of your message and personal experience.

    Every person has someone or some event that resonates with them. I was going to say every generation, but I think it is more personal than that. More often than not, that person/event involved is one of a creative nature.

    Creative artists have the ability to reach the inner core of our souls; that place that identifies our actions, feelings and sense of self. This is one reason that the ARTS re so very important to a young person’s development.

    When the creative entity one identifies with passes away, it rocks ones fragile creative core. Equilibrium must be re-established. Often, one stops and reevaluates as part of the grieving, or to put in technical terms – we need to reboot our core being. This reevaluation often leads to a re-dedication of one’s core thoughts or to a strengthening of core values. In Ron’s case it appears to have made him reevaluate his creative process and rededicate himself to continuing to produce high quality product now and in the future. (BTW, for him to equate his creativity with musicians creativity, in my opinion, is the proverbial comparing apples to oranges) In your case, I feel you have reexamined being True to your creativity, by not allowing others to dictate to you as to how you handle your art and your dissemination of information.

    The end result of all this reexamining is a moving forward with a strengthened attitude. One has to be true to oneself; to one’s core values. To quote Shakespeare: To thine own self be true.

    PS, it isn’t just you that gets lambasted by the evil trolls. Those of us that appreciate your sharing your art are called sycophants, or worse. Sad, but this seems to be the norm in Social Media. Manners, and respect are just words to many.

  10. saratogarose

    I joined to read about the origins of Master Raymond’s coat but ended up being moved by your post on Prince. I grew up about the same time in Richmond, CA, and was in Minneapolis for the Purple Rain explosion.
    I heard someone today say he was the Mozart of our time. He touched such a wide audience. He was magical.
    Thank you so much for sharing.

      1. saratogarose

        Wow – small world – my kids attended Mira Vista. They still talk about the corner store on the Arlington. Spent time at the Plunge. My dad grew up in Pt Richmond and Hotel Mac is still going strong. Good memories.

        I typically watch my favorite shows several times for storyline and set design. With Outlander, I’m also watching for costume. The attention to detail and authenticity does not go unnoticed. The Parisian costumes are phenomenal, but, OMG, that Red Dress! It is perfect. Can you fall in love with a dress?

        Please tell your husband that my daughter and I, plus a multitude of friends say “thank you for listening to your wife and creating Outlander!” He’s one smart man.

        Regards, Shari

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