Historically, Prince was a very, very, very private and secretive man. You only knew what he allowed you to know which wasn’t much back in the day, but then there was a movie that changed that all, Purple Rain.
Purple Rain is more than just one of the greatest songs of all time, it’s one of the most interesting movies of its time. “Interesting?” you might be saying. Yes, interesting. In all honesty, Purple Rain is the longest music video that just so happens to work as a movie. Michael Jackson was known for his music videos and their movie like quality but Jackson never really succeeded in making a full length movie that gave us a story about himself. Purple Rain gave us that.
I really need to read about the thought process for this movie because it is semi-autobiographical. Prince did have difficulties with his parents when he was a child, which, according to something I read a long time ago, led to him teaching himself to play almost every musical instrument known to man. I would imagine that before his first album he was indeed “The Kid” and other artists looked at him like he was less than because of his lack of experience and his strange musical taste. He probably also did have a bully similar to Morris and Jerome. I hesitate to say it could have been them. LOL.
What I admire about this film, now that I’ve seen it 50-leven times, is the vulnerability of The Kid. Prince could have easily made himself the underdog with no flaws who just seemed to have all the bad things happen to him but he didn’t. He decided to make The Kid a complex character. He made him charming, frustrated, soft, unsure and angry and blend that all into a seamless storyline. Now, by no means is this an Oscar winning movie (it did win Oscars for “Original Score” and “Original Music” in ’85), but it was the first time we got to see Prince as a real person and not a performer. We got to see what was going on behind the genius through the trials and tribulations of The Kid.
Now, let me talk about my favorite part of the movie other than the parts I talked about in a previous post, Morris and Jerome. I loved to hate them so much. They were the perfect bullies. They threw a woman into a dumpster, and my favorite, when Jerome told The Kid, who he knew was mad about the Morris/Apollonia situation, to bring a girlfriend to The Taste to see Apollonia 6. He doubled back to tell him that, too.
The “Sex Shooter” performance is another highlight. I don’t know any woman who didn’t want to be those girls on the stage in lingerie. Also, there was an album release posthumously where you can hear Prince perform “Sex Shooter” and if you’re familiar with a one Denise Matthews, you know that she was supposed to be the love interest in this film and also recorded a version of this song. Her version was very rough, loud and traditionally Rock. You can see how that changed over time from her version to Prince’s to Apollonia’s.
The meme below is iconic…
I don’t know why she would think this was a real thing but it was cute.
A strong subplot of this movie is the relationship between The Kid and Lisa and Wendy. Prince, himself, was a very passionate musician. I can recall stories Shelia E told about him hearing one thing off and restarting rehearsal. Now, I can never really pinpoint why he doesn’t want to use their music. I just assume it’s because the music isn’t his and whatever music he creates is from his own personal life and he wants to have that connection with and control over that aspect of his life, since it’s the only thing he has control over. The moment he put that tape into that tape player and pressed play I got chills. If you just watch his face as he let’s the tape play, you can tell he he knew what he was going to do–what he needed to do.
“Purple Rain” isn’t a song we really hear often. It’s not played at weddings or graduations or wherever else songs as epic as these are traditionally played, so when you hear it, it is a VERY special moment. The moment before he performs the song you can feel that vulnerability, that I love so much, that sense of “Is this going to work?”
Lisa starts on those keys after The Kid tells everyone that a couple of great girls wrote the song they were about to perform and instantly you should be crying. There is no way you can listen to this song and no shed a tear.
What Prince gave us was magic and I think a lot of people tried to duplicate this feeling and story, including Prince. The rollercoaster of music and emotions and we go on is unlike anything we had seen at the time or since and I will continue to watch it any time I see that it’s on.
Tell me, what is your favorite song off the Purple Rain soundtrack? “The Beautiful Ones” is one of my favorite songs of all time.