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Purple Rain by Prince

Album: Purple RainReleased: 1984Charted:
2
8
  • After Prince released his 1999 album in 1982, he toured in many of the same cities Bob Seger did. Prince was amazed at how crowds connected with Seger's songs like "Night Moves" and "Mainstreet," which were slow songs that told stories people could relate to. Prince decided to write a song in that style, and "Purple Rain" was the result.
  • The album was actually the soundtrack to the first movie Prince made. He went on to make three more, Under The Cherry Moon, Sign O' The Times, and Graffiti Bridge. Purple Rain won Prince an Oscar for Best Original Song Score (not to be confused with the Best Original Score category, won that year by A Passage to India).

    The song "Purple Rain" was the centerpiece of the film and a key plot point. In the movie, the female members in Prince's band, Wendy Melvoin and Lisa Coleman, write a song that Prince ignores, prompting a tirade from Wendy ("Every time we give you a song you say you're going to use it but you never do. You're being paranoid as usual..."). At the end of the film, Prince's crew is in a heated rivalry with another band (The Time), who do a blistering set that Prince must follow. When Prince takes the stage, he introduces "Purple Rain" as being written by Wendy and Lisa, then tears down the house with it.

    Wendy and Lisa were real members of Prince's band until 1987 when they left to record as a duo. This song, however, was composed solely by Prince. It's a love song, with Prince singing about his devotion to a girl, but it also serves as a catharsis, releasing the pent-up frustrations that had been building throughout the movie. The "Purple Rain" is a place to be free.
  • The song was written for the Purple Rain film, but it served Prince very well in concert, where it was often his showstopper. He retained many of the visual elements from the movie performance in his shows, which isn't much of a stretch - the concert scenes were filmed at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis, where Prince often performed.
  • This has been victim to being covered by Phish, featuring the infamous vacuum solos. Jon Fishman, the drummer, reigns control over the vacuum and also sings the song's vocally demanding lyrics. (thanks, Jeff - Kendall Park, NJ)
  • Prince played this to open the 2004 Grammy Awards. After singing part of the song, Beyoncé came on stage, and they performed a medley of their hits.
  • On the tour to promote the album (conveniently called the "Purple Rain World Tour"), Prince's band, The Revolution, would play the intro to this song for about eight minutes while Prince underwent a costume change before emerging in fresh duds to complete the performance.
  • The album is mentioned in the movie Shaun Of The Dead when Shaun and Ed are thumbing through their record collection and deciding what to throw at two zombies in their yard. One of the records that they decide not to chuck is Purple Rain. (thanks, Hermione - Los Angeles, CA)
  • Stevie Nicks told Mojo magazine in December 2013 that she was asked by Prince to help work on this song. However, she suspects that the Purple maestro wanted more than just her voice. "I've still got it [the demo cassette] - with the whole instrumental track and a little bit of Prince singing, 'Can't get over that feeling,' or something," the Fleetwood Mac singer recalled. "I told him, 'Prince, I've listened to this a hundred times but I wouldn't know where to start. It's a movie, it's epic."

    She added: "The olive branch of him giving me that cassette was huge, but I think he would have liked a romance with me, too."
  • Prince provided one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime moments when he performed this song in the rain at the 2007 game between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. After blasting through bits of several songs, he slowed things down for a sensuous rendition of "Purple Rain." The stadium turned dark, and purple lights glistened through raindrops as Prince enraptured the crowd with a silhouetted guitar solo that produced a stunning visual. Colts fans will remember the game, but for the rest of us, Prince's performance on the field was the highlight.
  • Prince admitted the success of the film and its music was overwhelming. "In some ways Purple Rain scared me," he noted in The Observer. "It's my albatross and it'll be hanging around my neck as long as I'm making music."
  • Many viewers were offended by the movie Purple Rain because of its apparent sexism. Prince defended the film, and himself, to MTV in 1985: "I didn't write Purple Rain. Someone else did. And it was a story, a fictional story, and should be perceived that way. Violence is something that happens in everyday life, and we were only telling a story. I wish it was looked at that way, because I don't think anything we did was unnecessary. Sometimes, for the sake of humor, we may've gone overboard. And if that was the case, then I'm sorry, but it was not the intention."

    The film was written by its director Albert Magnoli and William Blinn.
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Comments: 44

I have ALWAYS loved this song and Prince's style, delivery and sex appeal. If he had wanted everyone to know what "purple rain" is, he would have called it somethingsimple instead. In the movie (which I re-watched yesterday) he DEDICATES it to his father, but it was written by Wendy & Lisa, so no, the lyrics are not father-centric. To me this song epitomizes longing, mysticism, raunch, musical excellence and good old-fashioned rock & roll, in a personal package delivered by His Princeness. Rock On, indeed!Sandy - Enterprise, Fl
I think prince is 'purple rain.' I believe he's talking to his inner child & the torment he had been through or was going through, he didn't want to cause him any sorrow. Weekend lover refers to him maybe abusing himself with alcohol, women or drugs trying to mould into his inner child who needed him to lead and be strong for them. "times are changing' is prince coming to terms with cleaning up his act emotionally and spiritually. Let me guide you to the purple rain is him embracing himself as a whole. That's what I think.Angi - Perth, Australia
Correction to P. Chicago IL: the song "Darling Nikki" - off the "Purple Rain" album - was the song that set Tipper off. I also remember years ago, but years after "Purple Rain" the movie came out, reading an interview with Prince...and his father. His parents were divorced, but Prince still had a rather nice relationship with his dad.Karen - Manchester, Nh
It's rough to determine what a song like this is about. I have a feeling it's one of the key reasons people enjoy listening to it so much. My own interpretation is that it's about his mother and father's relationship. He's trying to explain his father's feelings for his mother that have caused her so much grief over time, but they don't make sense. For Prince the struggle is to make people see what his father and him are struggling through trying not to be the same person, and the only way he knows how to do that is by asking people to understand.Frank - Los Angeles, Ca
Actually, the song is about a homeless guy saying goodbuy to a friend. Back in the day in South Africa homeless people were paid to participate in protests.
Riot police used to spray the people with purple ink that would stain the skin for weeks. This way they could identify people who participated for a few days afterwards.
Raver - Jhb, South Africa
If you have ever seen Prince live in concert or closely watch the end of the movie Purple Rain, you have seen him masturbate his guitar as if it was his penis and a neon purple ejaculate spews from the head of his guitar. Listen to the lyrics again and catch the inside joke. Purple Rain is a shower of semen which fluoresces purple under black light. IMHO.Aton - Dover, Nj
i think its probably open to interpretation like most songs however i feel that its liek a relationship has come to an end. i like the verse that ' i never wanted to be your weekend lover, i don twant to be some kind of friends, baby i could never steal you form another, its such a shame our friendship had to end" makes me think it was an unrequited love that never eventuated fully but has to end. perhaps its saying 'i love you, but things are changing, our lives dont fit anymore and maybe they never did, you are with someone else now and we gotta let it go' and purple rain is symbolic of the fond memories? who knows, but whatever you take away from it, it has a highly emotional sound and is much deeper than first appears.Ny - Canberra, Australia
its about a couple that are being torn apart and times are changing so they have to move on without each other. great songJustin - Greenwood, In
Correction to Darrell...1999 was the album that got Tipper Gore so flipped out. She thought "Little Red Corvette" was a "cute" song (obviously she missed the point on THAT one) then was shocked at the content of the rest of the album. You'd think the cover might have tipped her off.P - Chicago, Il
My God you are all so stupid. You're reading way too much into it. The lyrics of Purple Rain are not ambiguous. They are very straight forward (minus the meaning of purple rain itself). The song is in context to the subject of the movie.Appolonia is the friendship that had to end and the purple rain is a metaphor for the joy she could be basking in.Erik - Minneapolis, Mn
semi-autobiographical is right. the majority of it was written by writers especially the part about his parents!Sarah - Los Angeles, Ca
I think the song Purple Rain may be a (not so)vague reference to the drug, Salvia, which is derived from the Purple Rain plant which has some hallucinagenic properties. Ironically enough, this same plant that seems to cause hallucinations in normal people seems to reduce them in people with schizophrenia.

I have to qualify this comment: I am not an expert in these matters so please feel free to make corrections if I am in error.
Jesse - St. Paul, Mn
The "Purple Rain" album topped Billboard's Top 200 Albums chart for 24 consecutive weeks; it was proceeded at #1 by "Born in the U.S.A" by Bruce Springsteen and also replaced at #1 by it!!!Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I do like this song alot!! It reminds me of a past relationship. It sums up the feeling of I'm sorry and if I don't see you again in this lifetime maybe, I will see you again laughing in the purple rain of heaven. That maybe, we will know in full what the purpose of our life and connections were all about in the by and by.
Love the guitar in this song also. :)
Kathy'sclown - Denver, Co
From an article I read, the song title "PURPLE RAIN" refers to the color of the rain in heaven.
Supposedly, the artist formerly known as "PRINCE"
heard about a woman who had a near death experience. During the time of the NDE, the woman said that heaven was filled with purple rain.
Prince wore alot of purple and maybe, he liked the color and the spiritual/heavenly connection.
Kathy'sclown - Denver, Co
As nearly as I can tell, the song "Purple Rain" is about the relationship between a drug dealer and his prospective "new" client. In this case the drug is LSD - "Purple Rain", though it could equally apply to any drug of dependence.
Look at the progression of position of the subject of attention here, from laughing, (fun) to bathing (total indulgence), to dependance, (underneath).
This song is a dealers pitch, apart from the last verse, an aside, in which he tells of his true simple intentions..
Nick - Adelaide, Azerbaijan
Purple rain I believe are the tears of a wounded but brave heart. Sometimes most of our emotional and spiritual growth happens when were in our deepest pain. With that growth of greater understanding and knowledge we can forge through, stronger, more aware of ourselves and others. We can feel laughter even while underneath the purple rain. And maybe lead others through it.Sue - Danbury, Ct
Prince actually toured with Seger for awhile. And supposedly the music for Purple Rain is a slowed down version of Bob Seger's Night Moves. Prince asked for Seger's permission to use the music. And if you listen to Night Moves and then Purple Rain you can hear the similarity. Purple Rain is supposed to be for his father and yes it does have a few lyrics taht you woldnt say to your father. But as for that fact I do not know for sure. Some say its for him but some sya he didnt die til later. Purple Rain does not have any relevance to ventura highway and is not about drug use.Joe - Somewhere, Ar
John L. Nelson did not commit suicide. The movie is not completely autobiographical. Check out this link to his obituary from 2001, long after the making of "Purple Rain." http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/john-nelson-729400.htmlE - Knoxville, Tn
Prince has recently sued you tube demanding all content be removed from you tube so don't expect to find songs on thereAustin - Smallsville, New England
A very humorous joke about the Shaun of the Dead reference: The records that they are throwing, the first one is Purple Rain, the 2nd is Sign O' The Times, another Prince album, and the Batman soundtrack, which had Prince on the album too.

Funny how he just chucks one album with Prince over the other two.
Logan - Troy, Mt
This is one of rare songs that take a simple form of proposing or/and declaring a break-up after an uneasy requited love affair with a bitter, unsympathetic abusive girlfriendMashavha - Durban, South Africa
Say what you will...the intro of this song, played on a 12 string semi-hollow body Rickenbacher is one for the ages...very tasty, rock on Prince.Kevin - Omaha, Ne
"purple rain" acually is talking about heaven...to be presise.Carrie - Sana Rosa Bch, Fl
The lyric for "Purple Rain" was taken from a song called Ventura Highway by 70's group America. It's the 2nd verse: "wishing on a fallen star/waiting for the early train/sorry boy, but I've been hit by purple rain". Purple rain is a form of acid (the hallucinogenic)Jon - Fullerton, Ca
i always thought the song was written specifically for the context of the film, and each verse addresses someone close in his life that he has a hard time expressing his love for. first verse: his father, second verse: appolonia, third verse: his bandmates, specifically wendy and lisaGil - Boston, Ma
To Brian in CA, I don't know facts, but the first time I saw that shirt on Seinfeld, I immediately thought of Prince. (I'm a Seinfeld fan, too.)Ma_cherie - Little Rock, Ar
To some people (like me), purple is a very rich and lush color. To others, it's very intense. And there are other people who think that purple is an extreme, excessive color. For example, they'll refer to very florid writing as "purple prose." So what would purple rain be? Perhaps some feeling or experience the narrator and the subject once shared. Perhaps one confided something to the other and now that bond of emotional safety has been destroyed. Whatever it is, I love the song.Musicmama - New York, Ny
Chill out Shaybreezy.Chrissy - West Islip, Ny
Okay look Lisa from Eugene OR or whatever the heck that is get it straight his father DID NOT commit suicide in front of him he walked out the room and shot himslf in front of his wife get your facts straight AND in the movie it never said that he died all you see is him in the hospital with his wife at his side and Prince going to visit so you need to get your purple rain facts straight K THANKSShaybrezzy - Atlanta, Ga
"I never wanted to be your weekend lover"
I don't think that would be a line in a song about the writers father...
Janie - Atlanta, Ga
Tipper Gore's fanatical stand on music censorship was spearheaded by the "Purple Rain" soundtrack. Earth to Tipper: If you didn't like the "Purple Rain" soundtrack, you should check out virtually every rap "song" that was recorded from the mid-1990s on.Darrell - Eugene, United States
Prince wrote this from my understanding of this and the movie "purple rain" after seeing his father commite suicide infront of him. The purple rain was supposable referring to the blood from his fathers head.Lisa - Eugene, Or
I have nothing to back this up, but I always though "Purple Rain" was a play on words. Purple is the color of royalty. "Rain" can be changed to "Reign", as in the reign of a King or Queen. So, "Purple Reign" would the rulership of royalty. This puts an intersting spin on the meaning of the song in context with everything else.Mike - Bloomingotn, Il
I think this song is about two people who are in love (both cheeting on someone) who are growing out of their relationship. now the only time they'll see eachother is in his fantasy of the purple rain.Anj - Kenilworth, Nj
I'm no expert at this, and this is actually my first song comment, but I think that Prince wrote this song for his father. I'm not sure, but I think his father comitted suicide so he composed this song for him.Andrew - Fayetteville, Nc
The emotional lyrics have multiple meanings; on the surface, they seem to be an apology from one lover to another, though on a deeper level, they become more of a spiritual allegory. It is a theory that "Purple Rain" is a metaphor for heaven, inspired by the testimonies of a woman who died on the operating table that the afterlife is full of falling purple rain.Ken - Little Rock, Ar
I love this song, but can anyone tell me what he is referring to as "purple rain?"Mike Bradley - Rome, Ga
This may be off the subject, but did anyone notice that the shirt Prince wears in Purple Rain is the same "puffy shirt" that was ridiculed in Seinfeld? Just checking...Brian - Fullerton (the Paris Of Oc), Ca
T'was the artist formerly known as price.

Squiggle!
Allan - Greenock, Scotland
I love this song. It's not annoying. And Purple Rain the movie is actually semi-autobiographical to Prince's lifeAj - Cleveland, Ga
Nothing says 1984 to me like Appolina singing in her underwear whilst Morris Day sits in the audience like a letcherous Statler or Waldorf. The song, the album and the movie are like a time capsule from a pre "Artist formally known as" "Slave" "batdance" time when Prince could do no wrong.Monty - Omaha, Ne
OOH ! Prince doesn't care for Bob Seger ?!?!? Too Sad !!Janetlee - Panama City, Fl
The title was inspired by a line from a song by America called "Ventura Highway"Van - Tampa, Fl