Purple Rain was the first movie I ever saw that made me think that life wasn’t about just doing the right thing. I was at an age where things were starting to take a turn towards disobedience and rebellion, and anything like grown (albeit tiny) men in ruffled shirts smelled like teen spirit. The revolution wore lace and did splits.
I don’t like everything about the film. The women were kind of… hm. But the music transcended anything seen before or since. It takes real willpower to not sing along to When Doves Cry in public, because I know every word and all the dance moves. Take Me With You was so sweet and sparkly that I can’t believe people don’t replace Mendelssohn’s Wedding March with it. Wouldn’t you rather dance down the aisle promising that pretty baby that you’d take them anywhere? Wouldn’t you rather passionately promise that you don’t care if you spend the night in a mansion? Guaranteed soundtrack to a happy, adventurous future.
I’m not a hugely serious person. I’d rather eat rat poison than pose as an intellectual, so I don’t have some precious think piece that explores every little facet of Prince’s career. I’m ok with 1999, but Purple Rain is the album that I adore. That yearning for differentiation and the urge to live as a free being? I get that. I love that. For a fashion mad teen, that film gave a classic spin on outsider couture. The sweeping purple frock coat with studded shoulder detailing, the Time’s zoot suits, the lingerie clad women… it all rolled together into a central idea on what fashion could be if you just did your own thing. Punker than punk rock with a better beat.
Prince’s film and album were about doing you, without hesitation or inhibition. That spirit, and the innovative thought and dedication behind it, is being erased from our society. There will never be another Prince, only weaker and weaker imitations. I’m sad to see him go, because there’s nothing as good to look forward to.
Originally published at sassyethnicbohemian.wordpress.com on April 21, 2016.