Monday, July 12, 2021

Musical Monday - Purple Rain by Prince

#1 on the Billboard Hot 100: Never.
#1 on the Cash Box Top 100: November 10, 1984 through November 24, 1984.
#1 on the U.K. Chart: Never.

The first thing to know about this video is that it is not a real concert. I mean, it is actually Prince, and he is actually performing before an audience, but this was filmed for the movie Purple Rain. Consequently, the dedication and the brief story Prince tells about the writing of the song may or may not be entirely accurate. The movie Purple Rain seems autobiographical, but it is a kind of enhanced reality that only sometimes matches up to the reality of Prince's life as an emerging artist in Minneapolis. In any event, the important part of this is the song itself, which is pretty much the quintessential Prince song.

Throughout his career, prince adopted the color purple as his signature look, leaning heavily into the "royal" nature fo his name. It seems natural then, that his signature song would reference the color in the title. This song, although not his biggest hit, became the song most identified with him. In a bit of history probably only really of interest to me, Prince stated that the origin of the title of the song was a line from the America song Ventura Highway, which means Prince was influenced by styles of music that I didn't entirely expect - although given his incredibly eclectic artistic output, I suppose I should not have been surprised.

Over the years, there were more than a few poetically appropriate events that occurred in conjunction with this song - when he performed as the Super Bowl halftime act, it began raining when he performed it, with the falling drops highlighting the purple lights that lit up the stadium, giving the entire performance an eerie vibe. This was also the last song prince performed live before he died, which seems so fitting that if it had been written into a fictional narrative people would have thought it too on the nose to believe.

Previous Musical Monday: Caribbean Queen (No More Love on the Run) by Billy Ocean
Subsequent Musical Monday: I Feel for You by Chaka Khan

Previous #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: I Just Called to Say I Love You by Stevie Wonder
Subsequent #1 on the Cash Box Top 100: Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go by Wham!

List of #1 Singles from the Billboard Hot 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles from the Cash Box Top 100 for 1980-1989
List of #1 Singles on the U.K. Chart for 1980-1989

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