30. Prince & The Revolution – ‘Purple Rain’ (1984)

“I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted to one time see you laughing
I only want to see you laughing in the purple rain”

Written by Prince

Produced by Prince

Taken from the album Purple Rain

Also released on The Hits 2, The Hits/The B-Sides, The Very Best Of Prince and Ultimate Prince

US #2, UK #8, AUS #41

That intro gets me every time. A sound that belongs to this song, belongs to Prince. Instantly emotional, instantly dragging up everything he meant this song to be when he wrote it and then any memories you may have attached to the song yourself. It’s almost as though Prince wrote the lyrics, then left the rest of the song instrumental so we could colour it in ourselves, make of it what we can. You know how sometimes they leave blank pages at the end of a book? The long instrumental section is our blank pages at the end of the Purple Rain album. It’s reflection time.

It’s reflection time for Prince, too, as the song contains some of his most evocative and personal lyrics. When I say personal I mean it in that impenetrable Prince way – it sounds like it could maybe be personal, sort of, but we mere humans will never really know. What is the “purple rain”? Do we care? As long as the music makes us feel like it does, it doesn’t matter at all where or how the lyrics and images came to be. It just matters that they work. ‘Purple Rain’ is Prince’s greatest ever ballad, a song any writer would give their right arm for. Delivered with just the right balance of melancholy and hope, it has become an anthem for being misunderstood, and has given a sense of belonging to just about everybody, regardless of whether you’re a misfit or not. I suppose that was the genius of Prince: he appealed to the masses, but if you were of just the right demographic, you felt as though songs like ‘Purple Rain’ were written just for you.

From the film:

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