On Episode 58 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, Eloy Lasanta from the Prince’s Friend YouTube channel joins me to discuss his own journey into some of the deeper meanings behind the lyrics to “Purple Rain.” As the title track to the soundtrack and film of the same name, there’s plenty here to discuss. The Purple Pied Piper implores us to join him in the purple rain by crafting a song that is at once sad, joyous, melancholy, and uplifting. This is the rare song that can do all of that plus melt our faces with an awesome guitar solo.
“You say you want a leader, but you can’t seem to make up your mind.”
“Purple Rain,” the song that has become synonymous with Prince’s career (for better, or for worse) since its inclusion as the climax of the film of the same name, was a bit of an anomaly in his discography up to this point. I can’t really name any lighter waving, guitar-rock power ballads on any of his first five albums. It was clear to anyone who had been following his career closely, that Prince was swinging for the fences and intended this to cross over to an elusive, mostly white, audience he was so close to reaching with 1999.
Since we already know how this story ended, it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of time on Prince’s career ambitions, so Eloy Lasanta (aka Prince’s Friend) and I spend most of the episode theorizing about the purple rain itself. The metaphor is deep, but like every song on this album, there are multiple interpretations that can be applied and accepted. You have the interpretation that fits in with the film’s narrative, in this case, the apology that Prince comes off as giving (combined with his actions, makes for a very therapeutic ending). On top of that, you have a much more spiritual or apocalyptic interpretation that isn’t quite as obvious. I think the episode is worth a serious listen to get as much out of this iconic and career-changing song as possible.
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics along with any guest I may have
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!