Musically, my life changed in 1984 when Prince released his Purple Rain album. Not long before, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was my undisputed favorite album of all-time—and by that I mean the first 12-13 years of my inconsequential existence.
Man, that album of Prince’s in ’84—–between his unrivaled guitar rifting, singing and implausible compositions that accompanied his songs, Prince moved me in every way someone who loves music could be moved. Til this day I go back and forth between Michael and Prince over who was the best of the 80’s (and maybe ever).
From the opening guitar chords it was obvious this title track off the album was going to be exceptional.
Yes, I did want to be guided to the Purple Rain.
Nevermind that I didn’t know what the hell purple rain even is or meant. The mystery… of sort that frames this song is part of the allure. It’s clear early on he’s mourning the end of a relationship, as he literally delivers the line “it’s such a shame our friendship has to end.” However, as the song grows deeper it seems Prince is discussing a more spiritual relationship. Maybe he’s meditating his relationship with God? I mean, regardless of its color, rain falls from the heavens above—allegedly.
There’s never a decisive answer from Prince in the lyrics or interviews over the years about this song, at least that I’m aware of and for me that’s a function of what makes Purple Rain so magnificent.
Simply calling Purple Rain a great pop or rock song is shortsighted. Prince digs in and reaches deep into his blues and funk prowess to produce a track with penetrating sounds delivered over several layers we just can’t get enough of.
Of course the song…and album were written for Prince’s Purple Rain movie. Personally I thought the movie was kind of whack but I digress. It doesn’t take away from how undeniably luminous Purple Rain—and others off his iconic album were.
Chart Success: This song charted high on Billboard two different times over 32 years. In 1984 it peaked at number-two on the Billboard Hot 100 and stayed on the charts for 18 weeks. After passing away in 2016 the song would reenter the charts—going all the way to number-four on the Billboard Hot 100.
Great Lyrics: The written lyrics of “Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changing could never do it justice. It’s all about Prince’s brilliant belting there—something we all fruitlessly attempt to sing along with.
“Honey, I know, I know
I know times are changing
It’s time we all reach out
For something new, that means you too
You say you want a leader
But you can’t seem to make up your mind
I think you better close it
And let me guide you to the purple rain”
Fun Facts: Because people love to bitch and moan about nearly everything, the movie “Purple Rain” was met with criticism for having too much sexism. In a 1985 interview with MTV, Prince was defensive. “I didn’t write Purple Rain,” he said. “Someone else did. And it was a story, a fictional story, and should be perceived that way. Violence is something that happens in everyday life, and we were only telling a story. I wish it was looked at that way, because I don’t think anything we did was unnecessary. Sometimes, for the sake of humor, we may’ve gone overboard. And if that was the case, then I’m sorry, but it was not the intention.” (Credit- Songfacts.com)
100. Hall & Oates – I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do)
99. Michael McDonald – I Keep Forgetting
97. The Police – Every Little Thing She Does Does Is Magic
96. Madonna – Papa Don’t Preach
94. Cyndi Lauper – Time After Time
93. Kenny Loggins – Danger Zone
92. Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes
89. Journey – Don’t Stop Believing
87. Debbie Gibson – Foolish Beat
86. Glen Mederios – Nothing’s Going To Change My Love For You
85. John Cougar – Jack and Diane
81. Billy Squier – Everybody Wants You
79. Shelia E. – The Glamorous Life
77. Whitney Houston – Greatest Love Of All
76. Paul McCartney & Michael Jackson – Say Say Say
75. Flock of Seagulls – I Ran (So Far Away)
74. Twisted Sister – We’re Not Gonna Take It
73. Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie
72. The Police – Every Breathe You Take
71. Survivor – The Search Is Over
70. REO Speedwagon – Keep On Loving You
68. Bobby Brown – Don’t Be Cruel
67. Kenny Loggins – Meet Me Halfway
66. Irene Cara – Flashdance…What A Feeling
65. Tina Turner – What’s Love Got To Do With It
64. Phil Collins – One More Night
63. Europe – The Final Countdown
62. Patrick Swazye – She’s Like The Wind
61. Matthew Wilder – Break My Stride
60. Men Without Hats – Safety Dance
59. Duran Duran – Hungry Like The Wolf
58. Huey Lewis & The News – Power Of Love
55. Styx – Too Much Time On My Hands
53. Olivia Newton John – Physical
49. Marvin Gaye- Sexual Healing
48. Huey Lewis & The News – Do You Believe In Love
44. New Edition – Mr. Telephone Man
43. Bruce Springsteen – Born in the USA
42. Tears For Fears – Everybody Wants To Rule The World
41. Whitney Houston – I Wanna Dance With Somebody
39. Bruce Springsteen – Dancing In The Dark
38. Culture Club – Karma Chameleon
37. Christopher Cross – Sailing
34. Foreigner – I Want To Know What Love Is
33. Pat Benatar – Love Is A Battlefield
32. USA For Africa- We Are The World
30. Kenny Loggins – I’m Free (Heaven Helps The Man)
29. Dexys Midnite Runners – Come On Eileen
28. J. Geils Band – Centerfold
27. Hall & Oates – Private Eyes
24. Men At Work – Who Can It Be Now
23. Eddie Murphy – Party All The Time
22. Jermaine Stewart – We Don’t Have To Take Our Clothes Off
21. Don Henley – Dirty Laundry
20. Scorpions – Still Loving You
19. Wham! – Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go
18. Billy Vera – At This Moment
17. Phil Collins/Philip Bailey – Easy Lover
16. Tommy Tutone – 867-5309/Jenny