Wednesday, September 26, 1984

Prince released “Purple Rain” as a single

First posted 11/17/2019.

Purple Rain

Prince & the Revolution

Writer(s): Prince (see lyrics here)


Released: September 26, 1984


First Charted: September 21, 1984


Peak: 2 US, 12 CB, 12 RR, 4 RB, 18 AR, 6 UK, 3 CN, 41 AU (Click for codes to singles charts.)


Sales *: 1.0 US, 0.69 UK, 1.69 world (includes US + UK)


Radio Airplay *: --


Video Airplay *: 193.40


Streaming *: --


* in millions

Review:

“Purple Rain” was the third single from Prince’s monstrous 1984 soundtrack of the same name. It followed two #1 songs – “When Doves Cry” and “Let’s Go Crazy.” It peaked at #2, but after Prince’s death in 2016, it re-charted, hitting #4. In the UK, the revived song hit #6, two spots above its original peak, and in France it went to #1 after the original stalled at #12. WK

Prince originally reached out to Stevie Nicks to write lyrics for what was then a country-tinged 10-minute song. She said, “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. It’s too much for me.’” NME She’s also said she suspected he wanted a relationship with her. SF He eventually wrote three verses – one about his parents, one about Apollonia (his girlfriend at the time and co-star in the movie), and his band mates. NME In the movie, Prince’s band mates Wendy Melvoin & Lisa Coleman complain that he never uses any of their material. The move ends with him taking the stage and introducing the song as being written by them. SF

Coleman said the song symbolized “a new beginning. Purple, the sky at dawn; rain, the cleansing factor.” NME Prince explained it by saying, “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple…purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.” NME The idea echoed a theme from his “1999” song two years earlier in which he sang “…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…” WK However, the phrase was first used in America’s 1972 hit “Ventura Highway” and the line “Sorry boy, but I’ve been hit by purple rain.” SF

Prince also reached out to Journey’s Jonathan Cain because he was worried the song sounded too much like the band’s “Faithfully” ballad. Cain was okay with it, noting that songs only shared a few chords. NME He told Prince, “I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.” SF

The song was recorded live at a benefit concert for the Minnesota Dance Theatre on August 3, 1983 at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis. NME The songs “I Would Die 4 U” and “Baby I’m a Star” were also recorded at the performance and used on the Purple Rain soundtrack. WK The song was also memorably featured in his Super Bowl halftime show in 2007 – while it was raining.


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