Tuesday, April 26, 2016


It was 1984, I was 13, and heard the following:
Dearly beloved
We are gathered here today
2 get through this thing called life
Electric word life
It means forever and that’s a mighty long time,
But I’m here 2 tell U
There's something else
The afterworld
A world of never ending happiness
U can always see the sun, day or night
...and on it goes, and yes I could pretty much type that from memory!
I was gone, gone to a world of purple, paisley, funk, groove...and sex!
Well, I was a pretty innocent 13 year old, so whilst I knew some of the songs on Purple Rain were a bit naughty, I didn’t really realise how so, lol!

Listening to this album as I type this up I am a little shocked I was allowed to play this album over and over as I did with no retribution, maybe my parents just didn’t listen to the lyrics hard enough. Although compared to some songs I hear today, it is really not that bad.
Prior to this awakening I knew Prince, any self-respecting, music-loving teen in the 80s did. 1999, Little Red Corvette, and Delirious were the 1/2/3 smash hits from the album 1999. Everyone couldn’t wait till it was 1999 to sing that song. (and indeed we did many years later and it was still cool!!!)
When Doves Cry was the first single from the Purple Rain album/soundtrack and had the most fabulous film-clip. We saw it a lot on Countdown. I remember being embarrassed when my Mum proclaimed she loved that song and the film-clip. She was younger then than I am now..isn’t life a curious thing!?
I loved that album so very much, 9 songs, and all perfect in their own way. It is funny thinking back to that time. 1983/1984 was a seminal time for music, THE crossover year of the decade, without a shadow of a doubt. I cannot tell you how HUGE Purple Rain was, albums just don’t present themselves these days as they did then. It is difficult to describe. He was an immediate star, the musical genius thing came later. Whilst he went on to do many more magnificent albums, it is Purple Rain that will forever be entwined with his image, and my memories
And his image was something else. I liked his odd style, I wouldn’t have said I was in love with Prince like I was with Bowie or David Bryne, but there was something appealing and magnetic about him. Quite possibly, for me, it was as simple as purple. I had always loved the colour purple, according to my mother drawing in black and purple from a very young age (I am sure there is much to be made of that psychologically!) I wanted his long, flashy, studded purple coat so very much.
So I loved Let’s Go Crazy, but also The Beautiful Ones and Baby I’m A Star. I knew every word to Darking Nikki, which I feel terribly uncomfortable typing now, that song was indeed an awakening of sorts within me, not so much sexually, but along the way to it, I knew it was sexy, but maybe not exactly how.
The sound of Purple Rain and Prince’s voice itself was something else, it was shrieky, sexy, choral, sublime. And that electronic style of pop with added guitars was something new for me to like, let alone love. I am playing the album now as my soundtrack on my new portable turntable, it’s speakers are tinny and therefore the sound would be similar to my old turntable I had as a teen. I cannot begin to tell you the memories that are flooding back. Hormones starting to kick in, boys, that feeling of having a million friends one day, and then being isolated with none the next day. Locking myself in my bedroom, reading the album cover over and over again – it had the words to each song listed – as I played the album over and over again. Still in pristine condition too, not a scratch on it!!
And so the album ends with Purple Rain, I wouldn’t have called this my favourite song of his, but since his passing, it is has pretty much been the main song playing on the jukebox in my mind. It Is indeed his masterpiece, a great song, with an epic guitar solo and a sign of things to come.
His follow up album, Paisley Park I loved. Very psychedelic loads of fun, yet not as well received as Purple Rain. It brought forward what I call the holy trinity of Prince: purple, paisley, and (raspberry) beret. Things I still hold dear to my heart today. I loved Paisley Park, Raspberry Beret (I now even own one!), and Pop Life.
Next up was Parade which I hated at the time, it was a change in pace, a little deeper, I was still a kid, I wanted more Paisley Park and Purple Rain.
But then came Sign O’ the Times, oh my!!! This was his first – in my opinion – genius album. Great lyrics, deep music; it featured a whole range of diverse styles, going back through his past and new styles too. It was a well formed album. With great tracks like The Ballad of Dorothy Parker, Starfish and Coffee, my favourite, If I Was Your Girlfriend, and of course Sign O’ The Times. I had just not heard music presented in this way before, my mind was blown.
Then I went off Prince for a bit, he released some albums, I didn’t really listen to them, unsure why, I did like the Batman theme.
But late 1991 he brought out Diamonds and Pearls and it was love at second sight, and I was back in my lovers arms, this time in a much more adult and sexy way. Gett off and Cream, well and truly making the lyrics on Purple Rain look G rated. We danced and grinded to these songs at clubs and loved every minute of it!
In April 1992 I headed to Sydney Entertainment Centre to see the Diamonds and Pearls tour. I had only seen a handful of concerts at that point in my life, so I simply was not prepared to be blown away as I was. Firstly, he played a great set and every song sounded as they were meant to and actually better. He was something else on stage, very sexy, very confident, and an amazing musician. The show was a spectacle with a huge flying bed, that Prince and Diamond and Pearl sang and grinded on as it flew up and out over the audience. The whole thing was completely mind blowing and became my favourite ever live performance for a long, long time, only to be ousted to No.2 by...Prince, in 2003 for his World Tour (Greatest Hits).
I have tried to explain the Prince Live experience to those unlucky enough not to have seen him over the years. And they look at you like maybe you are a little nutty. He is not my favourite artist, but there is NOTHING like Prince live. I’m pleased to see in the past few years this knowledge has become well known.
Every bit of energy, musicology, genius, sexy, charisma, vocals is transformed together to produce something so fucking perfect there are no words. Every single person who HAS seen Prince agrees, there is no comparison or equal to him live. He remains my No. 1 and my No. 2 all time favourite live performance and I knew (unless I saw him again) that no one would ever be able to change that. And this was before he died. And I have seen a LOT of live performances by some pretty amazing people, artists who I love more than Prince.
After Diamonds and Pearls came Love Symbol and Slave and a whole lot of wacky. I moved on, Prince was not for me anymore. I listened to his albums but they did nothing much for me.
Prince became a bit of a joke, and I guess it was sad. Then somewhere early in the new millennium he started to come back, not so much with albums, though they were certainly there. But with these live performances, in odd places and odd times, sometimes not even billed as Prince, and the buzz returned. By the time I saw him in 2003, the word genius and Prince were inseparable.
The performance I saw that night in Sydney was nothing short of spectacular, it was hit after hit after hit after hit. He danced, he played, he killed!!! Watching Prince play guitar is simply the most mesmerising thing, effortless, flawless. We were on our feet from the very beginning of the show and dripping in sweat by the end exhausted but willing to keep on going it he did! Driving home we were listening to a best of mix and we realised how many songs he didn’t play, there were plenty. We were gobsmacked, it was almost like Prince had produced so much brilliance and we had just not realised until that moment!

I never danced so much at a concert, nor felt as much joy as I did that evening, if you could bottle the feeling and vibe of that concert, no one would ever feel unhappy or down ever again!
2014 saw the double release of Plectrumelectrum and Art Offical Age which I have been playing constantly since. Great albums that hark back to the late 80s and early 90s. There are apparently loads in the vault, hopefully we will hear more.
And so it comes to that Friday that I woke up to my phone buzzing with the news of his demise, I was shocked and confused. Prince seemed indestructible, he was always going to be there. He wasn’t even 60, he was still very relevant and keeping everyone guessing. This was so very wrong, at the time of writing, it looks like a self inflicted demise, which makes me very shitty, I hate the death cliche, it sucks and is wrong.
I wanted to continue to listen to his output, hear what he wanted us to hear, buy his albums (I loved his stance on copyright for musicians, frustrating as it can be, but he was a man of principles!).

But what a legacy we do have.
One thing I have always said about Prince is if the only thing we heard from him was Sinead’s cover of Nothing Compares 2 U, that would be enough.
Because it was.
But we got so very much more than that, and we should be grateful.
I got to see him live TWICE, and I am eternally grateful for that. He – along with many others – shaped my teenage years, I thank him for being him.
This is what is sounds like when Cathy cries...I was not as upset as when Bowie died, but I was upset. Losing a celebrity, someone you didn’t know, it’s a weird thing, I am loving the love for Prince I am seeing everywhere. Loads of purple, loads of tributes. I am mourning what we will never get to hear, more genius, he had decades left, this is terribly unfair. Maybe one more live performance, would it too greedy to get a new No 1 live performance...maybe it was...
Dearly beloved Prince, I wish you a world of never ending happiness in a purple, paisley, funky afterworld.


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