Reflections on Prince

Some of us listened to the songs from our Prince mash up “When Doves Cry 4 U” when we were in high school or college while others were making up dance routines in elementary school and more than a couple PFLC ladies were not even born when these songs hit the charts. In honor or Prince’s birthday today, we share some of our thoughts and memories of this amazing musician and cultural icon.

Rachel:
A few years ago, Julie and I decided PFLC just *HAD* to have a prince song. But we couldn’t just decide on just one, so we decided to do a mash-up of songs from Purple Rain. Julie was a much bigger fan than I was at that point, so I really credit her with coming up with the original inspiration. She said “Purple Rain is like a symphony;” and she was right! The structure of the album, and the songs within it, really lent itself to a mash-up. (For example, we realized that a lot of the songs we wanted to mash up were already in the same key, and the songs change keys through the album like movements do in a symphony–pure genius!) The chorus and verses combine “When Doves Cry” and “I would Die 4 U.” There are tiny riffs stolen from “Let’s Go Crazy” and “Baby I’m a Star,” and “Purple Rain” appears in the coda / end section. Actually, the working title of the song was “2 BIG 2 FAIL” (we were genuinely scared that it wouldn’t work– thankfully we were WRONG) but we ended on “When Doves Cry 4 U” 🙂

So after we started performing the song for a few years, we got a nasty-gram from YouTube; a video of our Prince cover was flagged by Prince’s production company and removed as a copyright violation! Of course, we were all shocked and a little scared– but the overwhelming emotion was YESSSS HIS PURPLE HIGHNESS KNOWS WE EXIST!!! We love singing this song, it never gets old, and now it’s imbued with a whole new meaning.

Dresden:
Most of my family are Jehovah’s Witnesses. Prince was a member of the congregation my father, brother, mother, and step-mother belong to. Three years ago (four?), I attended the JW Memorial which is a celebration of the rebirth of Jesus (or something). Although I am not a JW, I will occasionally attend the Memorial because I know it’s important to my parents. For those of you unfamiliar with this religion, it’s literally dudes reading passages from the bible and then explaining how that applies to you.

The Memorial is always packed but the row behind us was empty. I thought that was weird. But then Prince and his entourage walked in just after the service started. I turned to see him walk in and gasped. I leaned towards my father and whispered, “That’s Prince.” My father looked at me like I was a nut and said, “Yes, I know.” He sat directly behind me and it took everything I had in me not to turn around and scream, “HOLY SHIT BALLS, YOU’RE PRINCE!!! I have SO many questions!” It only got worse when it was time to sing because all I wanted to do was turn around and give him all I’ve got which would definitely result in a record contract (duh).

I behaved myself. After the service, he shook hands, said hello to people, smiling pleasantly. I stood there staring at him like an idiot. Two years later, the exact same thing happened. Right behind me, could barely contain myself. My father has always said he was kind and humble. I saw that first hand. I just recall that he looked so content, like that is where he really felt at peace. He also held the door for my 97 yr old step-grandmother. We asked if she knew who that was and she said, “Well, he seems like a very nice young man, whoever he is.”

Kelley:
When I was younger I would drive to Prince’s house and park in front on the shoulder. I would just sit, parked there, baby-stalker-like, absorbing his nearness, and singing along to Prince cds. I always knew if he ever came out we would be bffs and sing together. When the security guards would come out to shoo me away, I would just drive over to Paisley Park where I would sit and sing along to Prince cds until I was waved off.

Julie:
I remember begging my older brother to tag along with him and his friends to a midnight showing of Purple Rain a few months after it opened. The theater was packed and it became clear, even before the first musical performance, that most of the audience had already seen the movie. People were hooting and hollering and shouting out lines along with Prince (I mean, The Kid) and Morris Day. But the best part–during the first musical number, Let’s Go Crazy (after the “eulogy,” when the dance music kicks in)–was seeing just about everyone jump to their feet to dance and sing along. People knew all of the lyrics–some were even dancing in the aisles! This went on through the whole movie, including, of course, everyone slowly waving an arm back and forth above their heads during Purple Rain. It was sort of like a Purple Rocky Horror Picture Show (which I hadn’t even seen yet at that point). Best. “Concert”. Ever.

And one other memory: When Joe and I got married, the ceremony started with us walking down the aisle together to the first few minutes of Prince’s “Adore.” There were a lot of tears in April when I heard it on the radio.

Alissa:
Imagine a third grade Alissa: she’s not allowed to buy the Prince tape. Instead she choreographs dance routines to all the songs with friends when she is done with her class work and performs them during show and tell. She truly feels “Let’s Go Crazy” from her head to her toes

Lisa:

In the fall of my sophomore year in college my new friend from Chicago told me I had to listen to this super funky, sexy guy from Minnesota. She had “Dirty Mind” and “Prince” on cassette. My small town, New England 19 year old self had never heard such sexy lyrics. I had heard Al Green a few times on the radio but Prince did not leave a whole lot to the imagination.

During the summer of 1984 I lived in Cambridge, MA and worked at the Harvard Square Theater where “Purple Rain” began showing at the end of July. This theater was known as an art house cinema and more likely to show a Merchant/Ivory production than a rock musical. The most popular movie up to that point had been “The Pope of Greenwich Village” with Mickey Rourke and Eric Roberts. Everyone who worked at the theater secretly wanted to be a filmmaker and none of us had to work too hard with the small audiences who attended the films until “Purple Rain” opened. We were not really equipped to handle the huge and rambunctious crowds who began showing up to sing and dance along to Prince. After one of the late night performances, one particularly rowdy audience member grabbed the fire house at the back of the theater during the film’s finale. My coworker and I were closing up the theater that night and the only ones working. We had to ask this very excited patron to please stop. He answered by high kicking my coworker in the face before exiting the theater.Truth be told, since I worked at the theater almost everyday I was a little tired of the soundtrack by the end of the summer but after a few years rest embraced it again.

Purple Rain jpeg

Leave a Reply