I Want 2 See You Underneath the Purple Rain

I couldn’t believe the text I had just gotten. One of my long-time friends asked me if it was true that Prince was dead? I immediately turned on the TV to msnbc, and to only add to my shock I was hearing that Prince had indeed died at the age of 57. I could NOT believe what I was seeing. One of my long-time musical heroes was truly gone.

Prince 2016

I text my boys to see if they had heard, since the poor men had grown up hearing Prince music throughout the house. My youngest even said he was near tears when he walked into his class to teach. My oldest was “bummed”, which is his speak for sad. I am beyond bummed and nowhere near tears. I am numb, completely numb.

After watching the news coverage for a few minutes, I decided to walk the dogs to collect my thoughts for this blog. Sure, David Bowie’s death had hit me hard, but this was Prince! Prince got me through the Eighties. Prince was the only artist to truly take rock, New Wave, punk, funk, R&B, heartland rock, and whatever else he liked, and synthesized those influences into an amalgam that was called the Minneapolis sound, since that’s where Prince came from. His music and lyrics were a call for racial harmony, and, hell, he even lived that harmony in his band selection. Nearly every band with whom he performed was interracial and had men and women playing. Being from a predominately white town in the Midwest, I appreciated this racial unity and gender harmony.

Princepurplerain

Many people will look back to the summer of 1984 as the pinnacle of Prince’s career. He had number one songs with “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy” (plus, a number 2 hit with “Purple Rain”), the number one album of the summer and fall with Purple Rain and the number one movie during the summer of Ghostbusters with Purple Rain. The man was seemingly unstoppable. All of his previous albums had been building toward Purple Rain. But he became an artist beyond reproach with everything he released in the aftermath.

He followed up the Purple Rain blockbuster with what Rolling Stone called a pastel Easter egg album called Around the World in a Day. While most did not care for this Sgt. Pepper/Paisley Underground-infused album, I darn near wore out my copy. I loved the psychedelic touches to his funk. And, as the Eighties progressed, that sound only grew. Sure, he made a clunker of a movie called Under the Cherry Moon, but the “soundtrack” to the movie, Parade, was a long-simmering masterpiece. It took us ten years to decipher how great that album truly was. Next, he released another double-album masterpiece, Sign ‘O’ the Times, which was a summation of everything from Purple Rain to the present.

Unfortunately, at the last minute late in 1987, Prince decided to pull the plug on what would have been another masterpiece of an album called The Black Album. Prince said he had a vision from God telling him to pull those dark forces off the shelves and replace it with something more spiritual. Rumors say it was due to Prince taking too much ecstasy. For whatever reason, a great was replaced by a more challenging album, Lovesexy, whose stock has been rising with music critics as the years pass. Eventually, Prince did release The Black Album to less fanfare in the Nineties than it deserved.

LoveSexyTour

When the Eighties ended, so did Prince’s commercial appeal. Although he would remain prolific to the end, he would only intermittently achieve commercial success. Sure, his recent stuff has been lyrically homogenized, but who really could keep changing music? As we now know, no one can maintain that kind of impact forever. Heck, the Beatles may have made the best commercial decision to break up when they did, so we will only know their successful music. C’mon, their subsequent solo careers showed that their impact would have waned by the mid-Seventies with the occasional “comeback” every couple of years. Sound familiar? Uh, see the Rolling Stones’ career.

prince the dawn

We were blessed to have had this musical genius called Prince. Yes, I am very sad at his passing. But, my music room is full of vinyl albums, 12″ dance mixes, 7″ singles, CDs and mp3s of his music to last a lifetime. My advice is to find a bootleg of his Nineties output called The Dawn. This piece of masterwork was the whole reason changed his name to that symbol. It was supposed to be a triple-CD release, but the company rejected it. Subsequently, much of the material was released on three lesser albums: Come, Gold and Chaos & Disorder. I have heard a recreation of what that album supposedly was to sound like, and I think it is brilliant. To me, that album would have put him back on the map, commercially speaking. To me, that lost album is his most satisfying artistic vision of his career. You have to hear it to believe me, but he proves he is the funkmeister of our generation, as well as THE guitarist of our generation.

Prince’s death will put an end to his musical creativity. But, supposedly, he has over 500 songs left in his “vault”. That will remain to be seen, but at least we still have his fantastic library to pour through as we wish. Personally, I am sorry to see him gone, but I will continue to revel in his music until my own passing. RIP Prince.

Author: ifmyalbumscouldtalk

I am just a long-time music fan who used to be a high school science teacher and a varsity coach of several high school athletic teams. Before that, I worked as a medical technologist at three hospitals in their labs, mainly as a microbiologist. I am retired/disabled (Failed Back Surgery Syndrome), and this is my attempt to remain a human. Additionally, I am a serious vinyl aficionado, with a CD addiction and a love of reading about rock history. Finally, I am a fan of Prince, Cheap Trick, Tom Petty, R.E.M., Hall & Oates, Springsteen, Paul Weller & his bands and Power Pop music.

2 thoughts on “I Want 2 See You Underneath the Purple Rain”

  1. Thanks for sharing your feelings once again.

    Like most of us fans, you have endured a serious period of mourning and grieving after the untimely and surprising passing of Prince. He has been my favorite artist since 1982 and will no doubt continue to be so but rather than comment on your next few Prince posts, I’m just gonna share my story and be done with it, if that’s okay?

    The morning of April 20th was a happy one – at least for a while. I was driving up to Phoenix to pick up my mother from the airport as she was flying in for a couple weeks as the only thing I wanted for my 50th birthday, which was a week away. I had a playlist of my favorite songs cached on my iPhone and was playing them in shuffle mode with Spotify app. Just as I got north of Tucson, maybe half an hour from where I began my drive, my wife called and said she had news and that I should pull the car over. As we had been caring for her father for the past four weeks as a supplement to his hospice care for an inoperable brain tumor – this was my first day off in all of that time and we had been doing 12-14 hour days – I was expecting the worse and began choking and tearing up immediately and asked if he’d finally found peace. She said no but that Prince had just died. It hit me hard and then the phone buzzed three times as each of my three children texted their condolences and asked if I was okay. I assured them all I was okay and that I would collect myself and continue on to get my Mom and enjoy the happiness that was sure to bring. I cried pretty hard for about 15 minutes but took a few deep breaths and got back on the interstate. I pressed play on the iPhone to start the music again and as the last notes of “Under Pressure” – the song that had been playing before my wife called – faded, Prince’s “Little Red Corvette” came fading in and I lost my just found composure but wiped my eyes and sang along with the song and the man like my very life depended on it. My phone began to go hyper as text and email notifications poured in from my friends and extended family and it got so bad I had to silence the phone so I could hear the music uninterrupted.

    I got to the airport early but chose to go inside and wait rather than sit in my car. The Mesa airport is a small airport and not the main Phoenix airport so there were not a lot of people there. I sat on a comfy couch and flashed on all the Prince memories I had – girls, albums, road trips, movies and finally seeing him live when he was touring as The Artist. Then Mom’s plane arrived and the passengers began appearing. I posted back and waited. And waited. And waited. She was the very last passenger off the plane – debarking only after the three wheelchair-bound passengers had been wheeled off. We hugged and she said I didn’t have to cry, she was here now. I didn’t tell her why I was wet-eyed until after we finished lunch. Then she got up from her side of the table and came on sat beside me, with her short arm struggling to make it up around my neck, telling me she was so, so sorry. We drove home and Prince’s “Kiss” shuffled through which happens to be my Mom’s favorite Prince song so we both sang along before arriving back at my father-in-law’s house. With the exception of my bed-ridden FiL, everyone gave me hugs and said they were sorry, some even sharing the favorite Prince memories. There were a dozen people, friends and family gathered in vigil and even my MiL gave me a great big hug and said she didn’t know who Prince was but everyone said you liked him so he must have been special. When we finally got home about eleven o’clock that night, I sent a mass text and a mass email to my friends and family thanking them for their well-wishes and promising I would personally respond to each and every one at some point in the future but it wasn’t going to be anytime soon. I disconnected my PC from its wifi adapter and deleted a couple of news apps from my phone. And I did not go back on the internet for just over four weeks. In my mass communications, I had asked everyone to refrain from speculating about causes or reasons for Prince’s passing as that was not important to me and that I was going to grieve alone before mourning along with them. And so it was.

    The very next morning we got up and went back to in-laws house where my father-in-law had taken a turn for the worse and was on oxygen for the first time. His breathing was labored and loud and got worse as the day went on. The hospice nurse warned everyone that the end was closer than it ever had been. His eyes were vacant and we prayed several times around him as the day went on. My MiL honored a foolish promise she had made to him not to cry in front of him, so she kept leaving his side to do so, sobbing quietly so he could not hear her. Just after supper, he finally found peace as I held his head with his wife, sons and daughters gathered around him. It was my first experience with a dead body as all the funerals I had attended up to that point had been closed caskets, including Dad’s less than a year before. Although the rest of the family wore red at his funeral, I got permission from my MiL to wear my purple Guayabera shirt as I got up in front of the 200 or so mourners at the Catholic church where my children had attended school and said these words

    “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here this day to get through this thing called life”

    and was greeted by cheers, whistles, and even a smattering of applause – the Monsignor eventually asked for calm, though with his thick Irish brogue it sounded like “com” – before I offered a couple of humorous memories of my beloved father-in-law who I always referred to as my other father:
    his initial confusion as I “ambitiously” dated one then the other of his daughters (“If they don’t work out, I’ve got two sons!”) and the fun he had trying to guess the band names of the concerts we attended:

    “Lessee, you saw Scorpions last week so it must be Spiders and Snakes this week” or “Whitesnake and Great White were last time, right? So tonight I bet it’s Rat”
    which was even funnier when I revealed that it was indeed Ratt we were seeing that particular night.

    After an entire week of no music, I began listening to Prince again exclusively, working through everything I had. Like I said, four weeks later, I returned to blogging and getting back to my old internet habits and ways. I hope stuff in the Vault eventually sees the light of day; I hope remastered expanded special editions of his albums are released eventually, maybe one or two or three on his birthday each year and I hope his music returns to Spotify someday – it makes sharing it a whole lot easier.

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