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 to which people could relate. 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.
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."
The first use of the phrase "purple rain" in a popular song came in the 1972 America hit "Ventura Highway," where they sing:
Wishin' on a falling star Waitin' for the early train Sorry boy, but I've been hit by purple rain
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.
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 the screenwriter William Blinn and its director Albert Magnoli, but Prince did inspire the script. He told Larry King: "I really wanted to chronicle the life I was living at the time, which was in a area that had a lot of great talent and a lot of rivalries. So I wanted to chronicle that vibe of my life."
According to Blinn, the story came about when Prince told him stories about his father, a musician who never quite made it and sometimes blamed his family for his failures. To Blinn, it sounded like a kind of therapy. "It was as if he were sorting out his own mystery," he said.
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.
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 performed this more than any other song in his repertoire. He played it at almost every show, and used it as the closing number on his Purple Rain (1984-1985) and Musicology (2004) tours.
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.
Suggestion credit: Jeff - Kendall Park, NJ
Apparently Prince had concerns that "Purple Rain" might be too similar to Journey's hit ballad "Faithfully." The song's composer, Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain, recalled to Billboard magazine that the Purple Legend rang him up at Columbia Records' office in Los Angeles. "I want to play something for you, and I want you to check it out," Prince told him. "The chord changes are close to 'Faithfully,' and I don't want you to sue me."
Cain had no problem with the song he heard. "I thought it was an amazing tune," the Journey musician said. "I told him, 'Man, I'm just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you're that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it's gonna be a hit.'"
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.
Suggestion credit: Hermione - Los Angeles, CA
This was the last song Prince played live; it was the closing number at his April 14, 2016 concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which was his last, as he died a week later.
Among the many artists paying tribute to Prince in the wake of his death was Bruce Springsteen, who opened his concert in Brooklyn on April 23, 2016 with a performance of this song. He dedicated the show to Prince, saying, "There's never been anyone better: bandleader, showman, arranger."
Springsteen and Prince had similar career trajectories, rising to fame in the '70s and dominating the musical landscape in the '80s.
Following Prince's death, the song re-entered the Billboard Hot 100 rising to #4. It also re-entered the UK Singles Chart at #6, two places higher than its original peak of #8.
Crystal from OklahomaMy sister loved Prince so we played Purple Rain at her funeral.
Markantney from BiloxeSep 17,
1. Huge Prince Fan, own a ton of his ALBUMs, CDs, and DVDs, and Purple Rain is a decent song but it's not even in my top15 for Prince's Best Songs to me.
2. To everyone commenting what the song is about, You're ALLLLL correct.
A song means(ing) whatever the H3LL you believe it is to you. Except if you base it on incorrect lyrics:):) as I've done many a times over many a songs:). Just try and determine what Michael McDonald, Bob Dylan, or James Brown is saying or talking about when you first hear a song of theirs?
Melanie from TnDoes anyone know where and in what year this particular Purple Rain vid was made PLZ?
Melanie from TnIt was said Prince referred to the early morning mist mixed with the purple color of the sky as purple rain. Said that he believes this is what the beautiful afterworld will consist of, or at least a portion of it. Makes sense that Prince would say, only want 2 see you laughing in the purple rain...like live ur life so that you will make it to the other side. Makes sense, but as many Prince fans there are, there will be at least that many interpretations. Whatever His meaning, we know it's all good. RIP Sweet Prince. Always in my mind.
Adeline from SingaporeNever wanted you to be a weekend lover - referencing the Christians who demonstrate their love for Jesus only during weekend masses.
You say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind - referencing Christians who give allegiance to Jesus, but are ambivalent when inconvenient to support the teachings of Christ
I could not steal you from another, shame our friendship had to end - a veiled criticism of the Church's (perceived) quest for absolute authority, and the dissipation of the flock who do not yield to the (perceived) authority.
Bfg9000ny from NycPrince is a Christian, Jehovas Witness according to Rolling Stone. They're the people who knock on your door and try to convert you. He references Christian symbols a lot. For example, "I would die 4 u" is about Christ the Messiah. Purple is the color of Lent, the period leading up to Easter, where Christians believe Jesus rose from the dead. The color purple comes from the Gospel of Mark 15:17 "they (the Romans) put a purple cloak on him and a crown of thorns." Purple Rain is a pun on Purple Reign, Christ the King. The song is about bad relationships (girlfriend, father) and the singer's wish that they accept Christ as King and thus find happiness and peace. In other words, Prince, in a genius, sneaky way, is trying to convert all of us.
Sandy from Enterprise, FlI 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!
Angi from Perth, AustraliaI 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.
Karen from Manchester, NhCorrection 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.
Frank from Los Angeles, CaIt'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.
Raver from Jhb, South AfricaActually, 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.
Aton from Dover, NjIf 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.
Ny from Canberra, Australiai 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.
Justin from Greenwood, Inits about a couple that are being torn apart and times are changing so they have to move on without each other. great song
P from Chicago, IlCorrection 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.
Erik from Minneapolis, MnMy 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.
Sarah from Los Angeles, Casemi-autobiographical is right. the majority of it was written by writers especially the part about his parents!
Jesse from St. Paul, MnI 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.
Barry from Sauquoit, NyThe "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!!!
Kathy'sclown from Denver, CoI 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 from Denver, CoFrom 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.
Nick from Adelaide, AzerbaijanAs 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..
Sue from Danbury, CtPurple 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.
Joe from Somewhere, ArPrince 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.
E from Knoxville, TnJohn 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.html
Austin from Smallsville, New EnglandPrince has recently sued you tube demanding all content be removed from you tube so don't expect to find songs on there
Logan from Troy, MtA 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.
Mashavha from Durban, South AfricaThis 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 girlfriend
Kevin from Omaha, NeSay 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.
Carrie from Sana Rosa Bch, Fl"purple rain" acually is talking about heaven...to be presise.
Jon from Fullerton, CaThe 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)
Gil from Boston, Mai 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 lisa
Ma_cherie from Little Rock, ArTo 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.)
Musicmama from New York, NyTo 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.
Chrissy from West Islip, NyChill out Shaybreezy.
Shaybrezzy from Atlanta, GaOkay 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 THANKS
Janie from 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...
Darrell from Eugene, United StatesTipper 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.
Lisa from Eugene, OrPrince 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.
Mike from Bloomingotn, IlI 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.
Anj from Kenilworth, NjI 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.
Andrew from Fayetteville, NcI'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.
Ken from Little Rock, ArThe 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.
Mike Bradley from Rome, GaI love this song, but can anyone tell me what he is referring to as "purple rain?"
Brian from Fullerton (the Paris Of Oc), CaThis 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...
Allan from Greenock, ScotlandT'was the artist formerly known as price.
Aj from Cleveland, GaI love this song. It's not annoying. And Purple Rain the movie is actually semi-autobiographical to Prince's life
Monty from Omaha, NeNothing 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.
Janetlee from Panama City, FlOOH ! Prince doesn't care for Bob Seger ?!?!? Too Sad !!
Van from Tampa, FlThe title was inspired by a line from a song by America called "Ventura Highway"