Talking movies, music and other close encounters of the social media kind.
we are gathered here today
to get through this thing called life.”
Those were Princes’ first words from the film ‘Purple Rain’.
Spoken admist the synthesized sound of a church organ, this long haired musical messiah stands with his frilled up shirt and Fender Telecaster. Preaching out his sermon on the mike.
His words highly charged and electrified.
“Purple Rain” was my music soundtrack of the mid 1980s.
Even though every kid I knew back then was into Michael Jackson, I enjoyed Prince Nelson Rogers’ music more.
Mixing the antics of James Brown, the rock guitar skill and theatrics of Jimi Hendrix, the sexual beat and groove of Sly & the Family Stone and the best Motown and Stax melodies into a devilish fusion of sexually charged rock, soul and funk.
Back then they called it “the Minneapolis sound”.
And back in 1982, I got my first taste of it, when I played my sisters’ cassette tape of ‘1999’.
Of course there’s the “party like it’s 1999” track – and also the classic ‘Little Red Corvette’ the wonderful ‘delirious’ and the beautiful ‘Free’, but the track that I repeatedly rewinded and listened to over and over again was the 7 minute, 21 second sex-fuelled track “Let’s Pretend We’re Married”.
I was only 11 years old and thought I had listened to something that I wasn’t suppose to listen to. It had an edge. It had graphic lyrics. It was more sexual and sounded dirty and dangerous than the other tracks. Listening to it at that age, I felt like I was committing a forbidden sin. If the song was a movie it would have an R20 censor rating.
Of course I liked it.
It’s the dangerous taboo of Sex and Rock’n’Roll that Prince played on and to me that’s what made him better than Michael Jackson. And he could play like Hendrix. Eventually Michael would go down the rock path with ‘Beat It’, but Jacko needed rock guitarists to provide that rock sound, like Eddie Van Halen, and later Steve Stevens.
Prince was a rock-god guitarist in his own right. He could do all that himself.
Then in 1984, the movie “Purple Rain” came out.
That movie was the first R rated film I saw, which I went to see with my cousin Adie at the Regent Cinema in Wellington. It blew me away. From the very first song and his fiery guitar solo on “Let’s Go Crazy”, through to the chessy dialogue and cliched melodrama, that aside – it was the live performances by Prince and the Revolution that really stood out for me. Adie had a big crush on Apollonia. I had a massive crush on Wendy the rythym guitarist. We both bought the Purple Rain Movie Soundtrack immediately after watching the film.
Even to this day, watching Prince sing and perform “Purple Rain” in that film gives me goosebumps. The slow build up. The sad undertone. The soulful, gospel-heavy chorus. It all just wells up. And then he rides into one of the greatest guitar solos ever committed to film. With his white note shaped electric guitar piercing the soundscape, his hendrix-like playing reaches for the heavens.
This is truly what it sounds like, when doves cry.
You catch a moment in the film when the camera cuts from Prince and zooms slowly to the club owner who nods his head of approval – he’s stunned in awe and amazement. That’s my favourite moment of the film.
I was stunned in awe and amazement too.
He finishes the song and runs outside. But he hears the crowd wanting more. How could you top that epic song? You don’t. You just celebrate in the highest order. He goes back on stage and he fires right back – with the pop filled ‘I Would Die 4 U’ and then he ends the unforgettable set with the totally euphoric ‘Baby I’m a Star’.
Those three songs together to end the film are for me, one of the most electrifying rock film moments I’ve seen on the silver screen.
What a musical genius.
What a great loss.
As he sings on his song ‘Let’s Go Crazy’, Prince is probably where he’s aways meant to be. In a beautiful afterworld where the sun forever shines.
“But I’m here to tell you
There’s something else
The after world
A world of never ending happiness
You can always see the sun, day or night”