Musings in the Dark: Prince's Legacy: #2


Prince's Legacy: #2

#2:  Purple Rain

This is Prince’s 6th studio album, and it is iconic; the definitive Prince album.  It was his second with The Revolution, and it, of course, is the soundtrack to the movie of the same name.

Like, do I even need to say more?  Everyone knows Purple Rain.

I will, because the album deserves the full treatment.  It sold over 22 million copies and is one of the best-selling soundtracks ever, in addition to being one of the greatest albums of all time.  It won two Grammys and an Oscar, and four of the songs became Top 10 hits.  Purple Rain owned #1 on the Billboard charts for 24 consecutive weeks, and was added to the Library of Congress’ National Recording Registry for its cultural significance.

Now that is an impressive list of accomplishments.

Purple Rain was released in June of 1984 and contains nine epic tracks that cover a range of genres: R&B, pop and dance, to name a few.  The album as a whole is symbolic of Prince’s ability to experiment with different styles and an indication of what was to follow in terms of experimentation. 

The party jumps off with “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today
To celebrate 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 afterworld
A world of ever living happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night
So when you call up that shrink in Beverly Hills
You know the one, Dr. Everything’ll Be All Right
Instead of asking him how much of your time is left
Ask him how much of your mind baby
‘Cause in this life, things are much harder than in the afterworld
In this life, you’re on your own

And then comes a sickening guitar riff and welcome to Prince’s masterwork…where we all went crazy.  The movie opens up with LGC, where we promptly did it again.

“Take Me With You” was a song initially intended for Apollonia 6, but Prince being Prince, took the song back and included it on Purple Rain.  Good thing too, because it may not have been discovered or appreciated otherwise.  It’s the kind of cut that you listen to when you’re driving in the countryside, and that may be because the video was a mashup of images from the movie.  Either way, it is a gem of a song and fun to listen to.

“The Beautiful Ones.”  This track…gyatdamb!!!!!  “Baby baby baby…what’s it gonna be?  Baby baby baby…is it him or is it me?” And the way it ends…oh God, I love this fucking song


“Computer Blue.”  The guitar riff is legendary, imho.  I remember grabbing the broom and playing air guitar right along with the solo because it kicks so much ass.  I mean, I can’t have been the only one who did this. 

“Darling Nikki.”  One of my earliest works was inspired by this song.  It’s such a dark and sexy cut, and it spoke to me on levels I didn’t understand until later.  I put the song on repeat and wrote like a fiend until I couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore.  I used to wonder who “Nikki” was, and did she really masturbate with magazines in hotel lobbies.  Lyrics like that are firebranded onto our brains—or my brain, at least.  It’s right up there with I guess I shoulda known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn’t last…

“When Doves Cry.” Dig if you will this picture: This phenomenal cut was the lead track off PR, and you can easily recognize that ferocious opening guitar riff and that sickening beat.  You can easily recognize the beautiful harmonic synthesizer ending.  WDC is an awesome, awesome jam, and apparently everyone in the free world thought so because it was a worldwide hit and Prince’s first #1.  It’s certified platinum and is one of the 500 greatest songs of all time.  The album was considered complete, but then Prince recorded “When Doves Cry” and added it to the album.  Can you imagine what Purple Rain would have been like without WDC?  I can’t.

“I Would Die 4 U.”  This may be perhaps my least favorite song, but the album set the bar so high that IWD4U is better than a lot of other songs by comparison.  Either way, it’s lighthearted and spiritual in a way that the other songs on PR aren’t.  There’s a cute little hand movement they do in the movie when this song is played, which includes a gun to the head.  Hilarious.

“Baby I’m A Star.”  I adore this track.  “Hey, look me over…tell me do you like what you see?”  I love the piano, the melody, the chorus and the breakdown.  I also love the sequence in the movie.  Prince is all over the place, clearly enjoying himself, and so is everybody else.  It’s so much fun to listen to and dance to.  It’s an unreleased hit.

“Purple Rain.”  This is the song that ends any and every Prince concert.  Like literally, the show is not over until it is.  Sometimes you have to wait.  When I saw him in concert, the show had theoretically ended and some people were leaving.  My bff refused to move.  She told me, “Every concert ends with Purple Rain, and I’m not leaving until I hear it.”  Twenty minutes later, Prince returned to the stage amid thunderous applause and performed the seminal track.  I felt bad for those who had left, but not too bad.

“Purple Rain” was my mother’s favorite Prince cut.  Again, the opening and the guitar are beyond description.  It’s a haunting, beautiful song and the perfect ending to a perfect album.

Purple Rain peaked at #1 on Billboard.

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