Purple Rain was on TV this weekend as I was spending the time while my kid was napping to zone out. I knew I wanted to write something about one of the greatest records ever this week so it felt rather serendipitous.
I remember first hearing Purple Rain years after it came out during a period where my sister and her friends were totally obsessed with NKOTB (TANGENT: I also have a story about being dragged after school to stalk the hotel NKOTB were staying in here (they had a show that night), ending up in the gravel lot behind said hotel where we spied tour buses. As my sister and her friends, along with my mom who drove us, were trying to peek into the buses, a black van pulls up next to me. The side door open and some big dude says something that hilariously convinced me to just hop in the van (I was 10 or 11. I probably should have known better) and lo and behold Donnie Wahlberg was chilling in the back. Meanwhile my sister and mom are freaking out, thinking I’m being kidnapped but it all ended up with my sister and her friends getting to meet the dude, so I was pretty much everyone’s hero for a few days. Anyway, that has nothing to do with Prince but still makes me laugh). So my sister and her friends also listened to other music that was hugely popular at the time which led to a handful of Prince tapes being in our house (I was obsessed with shit like Skid Row and Motley Crue back then). I stole the Purple Rain tape because the cover was so bad ass.
Back to serendipity, it was pure luck that the tape, the first time I heard it (I still remember this so distinctly it’s ridiculous), was cued up on side two, so the first thing I heard was Prince’s guitar wailing on “When Doves Cry” and the killer beat that opens the song. I was just learning to play guitar myself and kept thinking “this dude can play!” and listened to the whole thing. Purple Rain was the first non-hair-metal album I really got into (and to be fair, the epic (and yes epic) solo on the title track put me over the top. I would happily listen to a 60 minute version of “Purple Rain”) and probably expanded my ‘musical horizons’ more than most, but it’s pretty hard for anyone to deny that it’s simply one of the best records ever.
Oh and this weekend reaffirmed that the movie also rules.