While the death of Prince Rogers Nelson at the age of 57 in 2016 leaves a permanent void in music, the legacy he left will live on forever. Considered to be one of Prince’s finest creations, or in music history altogether, “Purple Rain” is a quintessential creation, both lyrically and musically. It was also the last song Prince performed live in Atlanta, Georgia, a week before his death. So let’s dive into the lyrics and meaning of this song.
“Purple Rain” is the title track from Prince’s sixth studio album released in 1984. The album served as the soundtrack for the film of the same name, also released in 1984. The song peaked at No. 2 on Billboard Hot 100 and 8th place on the UK Singles Rankings. After Prince’s death in 2016, he ranked 6th in the UK. Rolling Stones magazine ranked the song 144th on its list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. The estimated sales figures for this song exceed 2 million worldwide. The album itself sold over 3 million units worldwide, making Prince the best-selling album. In addition, Prince won the Oscar for “Best Original Song Music” at the Oscars in 1984 for this song.
Prince said purple was his favorite color. The legend associated with the color purple and he was often seen wearing this color. But what does this song mean? Prince once broke down the idea behind the song;
“When there is blood in the sky – red and blue = purple .. the purple rain is about the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith / god” guide you through the purple rain “
Additionally, Prince’s fifth album, titled “1999”, contains the lyrics; “… I could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple …”
Watch the official music video for Prince & The Revolution’s “Purple Rain”
Buy the album “The Very Best of Prince” on Apple Music and Amazon
Lyrics review and meaning of the song “Purple Rain”
Prince wrote this song with the movie in mind. Each verse is addressed to one or more important people in his life. The first verse is a dedication to his father, the second to his girlfriend, and the third is an address to his bandmates, especially Wendy and Lisa.
Prince addresses his father, John Lewis Nelson. In these moving words, Prince told his father that all he wanted was to make him proud. Maybe he failed at that point in his life. When you get to Prince’s stature, it becomes very complicated to manage all aspects of your life. But he knows he did his best and keeps trying. He therefore awaits the purple day of judgment for his conviction.
Her wish for his father is that Prince sees his father smile one last time. Whether it’s the end of the world, measured in the ‘Purple Rain’, his only wish is to make him smile.
The infamous hook to the song has Prince begging for a purple rain. In a way, the title of the song also marks the end of the world, and in that situation, Prince only wants to see the good in life, bring back fond memories for the other side.
In the song’s second verse, Prince addresses his girlfriend. From the lyrics, it’s understandable that their relationship didn’t work out. Prince says “I could never steal you from another” and he was a “weekend love” which would suggest a criminal act between the two. Maybe she already had a “full-time” boyfriend or even a husband. Anyway, it is obvious that the singer has very strong feelings for this girl.
Prince also said what they had was a “friendship” and now it’s fading away.
The third verse has two layers. In one, he always talks to his girlfriend that they need to come to some sort of settlement in their relationship. “It’s time we all looked for something new”, tells us that the singer does not prefer to stay stuck in this position where he is. Either they move forward together or they move away.
“You say you want a leader” but Prince wonders how he is not. He’s everything this girl wants. But she takes a step back.
In the second layer of the verse, Prince talks to his group mates: The Revolution. He tells them that the winds of musical play are changing and that they will have to find their own way at some point. The group broke up two years later in 1986. Perhaps it lacked a leader? Or was Prince more of a “boss” than a “boss”?
So what do you think of Prince’s “Purple Rain”? What does this song awaken in you? Leave a comment below.
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