I’m in 7th grade and at my friend Eric’s house. He lives with his mom, who’s divorced. There’s a dad who doesn’t really come around. I’ve never seen him but I know that to be true, not sure how. His mom is almost always angry about it. I spend the night there sometimes. When I do we play Atari and I make Eric play Little Red Corvette over and over while I play Defender. He has it on a 45 and he gets sick of hearing it over and over but I get to pick as long as it’s my turn to play and it’s “Again. Again. Again.” I was good at Defender. And even though my own record collection consisted mostly of KISS, I knew I liked Prince. I don’t know that I would’ve publicly admitted I liked Prince at that time, but there was something about that song that was just damn good. I didn’t have it at home and I wanted to hear it time and time again. That’s my first clear memory of Prince. Others would follow, in conjunction with periods in my life. The crushes I had when Purple Rain was all the rage in theaters, knowing it was too nasty for me to see. Seeing him on Mtv playing the guitar like he was another Hendrix. This little back guy being feminine, singing Controversy with his band, a band that had girls playing lead guitar too. Those weren’t the rules! So comfortable with himself it made other people uncomfortable. And the showmanship…Watching the video to Raspberry Beret on our tiny black and white tv because the old color one we had had died and we didn’t have the money to fix it. Mtv played that video once every half hour that weekend. I didn’t know what a five & dime was but I had a clear picture of Mr. Magee. He looked like Mr. Hooper on Sesame Street. Still wouldn’t have called myself a Prince fan. But when did you turn a Prince song off? Maybe I’m just like my father….maybe I’m just like my mother….Holding hands with a girlfriend listening to Cream, feeling briefly whole….Looking back at my youth I see that incarnations of Prince were consistently a presence, marking time for me in the way a longtime friendship does. Part of the soundtrack of a life.
News of his death hit me hard today. I guess it took me this long to realize I was always a fan. A singular talent. Normal rules didn’t apply. Marleyesque in that way. If we all are tasked with using our given talents to the fullest, Prince built credit for many lifetimes to come. An artistic life to be celebrated, but I don’t feel much like celebrating tonight.
Such a shame our friendship had to end.
Santana: In the beginning I think that the guy is apologizing to a girl for saying some mean things to her, and saying he didn’t really mean it, he was just really angry. Then he says that he only wanted to see her happy, he says that by saying “I only wanted to see you smiling in the purple rain”. If he said blue rain blue is kind of a sad color so he made a color that is close to blue but not exactly blue, so he made purple. He keeps saying he wants to see her be happy, but he’s not really making her happy. His actions don’t match his words, so…it’s hard for them to have a friendship.
Kai: So like, the rain is purple and he wants somebody to stop the purple because he thinks purple is a girl color, but there’s no such a thing as boy colors and girl colors. He doesn’t know that. So he goes to pre-school then he learns that there’s no such thing as boy colors and girl colors. So he goes back to that place and says “Purple rain purple rain”. He walks around and says to people “There’s no such thing as boy colors and girl colors!” One person says “I don’t believe you, because everything is a girl color and a boy color.” The boy says “You know what? I’m just gonna walk away.” And smiles. Then he’s like “Good that I didn’t get in a fight with her.” Then he’s saying “Purple rain purple rain”. Then he finds out the girl is following him, then he says “What are you doing, are you trying to get in a fight? I heard you crunching the floor with your crunchy feet.” And she’s like “Guess what, I don’t believe you still! And you won’t be the boss of me! And you are not gonna be a good dad!” And the boy says “You’re not gonna be a good mom.” Then he walks away again. And he’s like “I don’t want her to bug me” so he says “Puurrrrple rain puurrrrrple rain…” Then he’s tired so he wants to go home and go to bed because it’s already night time. He couldn’t go to bed because all the people in the world were copying him. Then he screams “Get out of my house!” He gets to go to bed. And with all that stuff, he forgot it was Christmas.
Sebastian: I think the song’s about a guy who likes a girl, but the girl kind of likes him but kind of likes another guy. She decides that she has to choose and she chooses the other guy. She feels like then she can’t even be friends with the guy who’s singing and he can tell that she’s not really happy right now, like kind of wants to be his friend then feels like it’s wrong. that’s why he says, like, you’re in purple rain. The purple represents the good and the rain represents the bad. It’s another way of saying bitter sweet. The guy isn’t begging for her to marry him but he wants to be friends with her still.
“I don’t know, ask Prince.”
–Eric Clapton after being asked how it feels to be the world’s best guitar player.