The Prince effect: Purple Rain

PRINCE is a weird little man. That was my initial thought when I heard his track When Doves Cry. The start of the track gave me the feeling of the kangaroos jumping around in the Australian Outback. Prince just didn’t sound or look right.

When Purple Rain was released in 1984, I pretty much ignored it – Michael Jackson was on fire, and there were a string of artists and groups that were much further ahead than Prince on my unofficial music chart… Duran Duran, Culture Club, Lionel Ritchie, Belle Stars, Howard Jones, The Thompson Twins, Queen, Spandau Ballet… With this in mind, how did I end up buying the Purple Rain album, and bowing to Prince, the musical genius?

Curiosity. That was the main reason… people were going mad about the album – I had to check it out – so off to the record shop in Harlesden I went…

The first track, Let’s Go Crazy, starts off with the feeling of being in a gospel church. “Dearly beloved, we are here today to get through this thing called life… but I’m here to tell you, there’s something else, the afterworld. A place where there’s never ending happiness, you can always see the sun, day or night…” This intro gave me a sense of security for when I kick the bucket, and I was liking the afterworld that pastor Prince began his sermon preaching about. But, all of a sudden, pastor Prince’s whole sermon changed: his pastor attire was ditched, the church doors flew open, and I was enticed into following Prince on a journey brimming with romance, emotion, and sexual fantasies.

I felt extremely happy with the journey Prince had taken me on… actually, I was more than happy…

Let’s Go Crazy made me want to dance and sing out loud, but as a seventeen year old playing the album in my bedroom, which was next to my parents bedroom, I would have been embarrassed beyond belief if they walked in at the “she picked up the phone, dropped it on the floor…” lyrical moment.

As I continued to be drenched by the musicality of Purple Rain, I came across an interesting lady called Nikki in the track Darling Nikki. Prince starts off by mentioning “you can say she was a sex fiend.” He met her in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine! Prince submitted to Nikki and experienced things that his eyes couldn’t believe. Now, the whole situation with Nicky throws up a few questions that I have for both Prince and Nikki: How did you know about Nicky? Why on earth would Nikki be masturbating in a hotel lobby? What hotel was it… major chain or an independent one (I’ve never seen such actions at a Premier Inn or Hilton)? Was the lobby deserted or did the guests just turn a blind eye? The fact that Prince called the track Darling Nikki suggests that he was not disappointed by the encounter.

The B-side of the album kicks off the track When Doves Cry. This was the track that sounded weird before I bought the album, but after hanging onto Prince throughout the A-side, it sounded just right. The lyrics to I Would Die 4 U seems as if pastor Prince had briefly returned to the pulpit… “No need to worry, no need to cry, I’m your Messiah and you’re the reason why… ‘cos you… I would die 4 you…” When Purple Rain (the final track) had finished, I felt extremely happy with the journey Prince had taken me on… actually, I was more than happy… I was delighted!

I went on to become a big fan of Prince’s work and added more of his albums to my music collection. Prince was weird, but he made weird cool. His sexual fantasies could come across as lewd, but he twisted lewd into romance. How would I sum up Prince… weird but fascinating, very naughty but nice, reserved but bold, an absolute genius, and one sexy MF!

Prince: 1958 – 2016


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