Category: The Daily Loper

Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain”

Prince purple rain Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.

I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.

I don’t know, of course, because the only Prince concert I ever saw was when Tim & I saw the infamous opening set for the Rolling Stones. You know, where the fucking “only one way to rock” assholes booed and booed and threw stuff at him.

I don’t think I had heard Prince yet, but I certainly had been reading about him in the wake of Dirty Mind, and I was dead curious. At the time, I was more dismayed at the booing, and I seem to recall that the sound volume was underwhelming, to boot. All in all, all I knew for sure was that Prince in 1981 was a thing I didn’t quite get.

But as always, I assumed that was on me.

Meanwhile, I’ve often wondered how many of the bros who booed him ended up loving him just a few years later. I’d like to think all of them, but that’s probably optimistic. At least some of them, right?

I mean, how can you not love “Purple Rain?”

First off, it’s got that big, repeaty gospelish chorus, with a shitton of reverb on Prince as if he’s preaching from a radio station that’s beaming god’s own word directly into our souls.

And then there’s the guitar solo, which — along with the equally transcendent “whoooo-hooo-hooo-hooos” — dominates the back half of the song.

I’ve just now made up a theory that iconic guitar solos often fall into one of two categories. There are the ones that build and build into they climax: you know, like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rock Bottom.” Then there are those ones that kind of meander out ahead of the song for a while until the song catches back up with them, like “Down by The River” or “Marquee Moon.”

While “Purple Rain” is closer to the latter than the former, it charts a different path. It starts off wandering around, flirts with the conventional “deedleley-deedlely-deedleley” for a bit, but settles instead for a repeating phrase that anchors the rest of the song.

It is, of course, the sound of the purple rain falling from the skies. What else could it be?

That’s what’s on the album, and the film. And, of course, the performance in the film was transcendent enough to justify all of the self-indulgence that preceded it.

One of the tropes that’s been resurrected in the wake of Prince’s passing was that 1984 was one of the greatest years ever for pop music, what with the waning of Thriller coinciding with Purple Rain, Like a Virgin and Born in the U.S.A., to say nothing of Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Police and Van Halen.

All I can say is, sure why not? These things are nearly impossible to quantify, but there was great music everywhere in 1984, coming from every part of the dial and still spewing 24 hours a day from the MTV, and it sure seemed like the confluence of “good” and “popular” was extremely high that year.

So if you could somehow create a graph of 1984 in music with “Good” as the X-axis and “Popular” as the Y-axis, there would probably be an abnormally high number of entires in the upper right-hand quadrant. And uppermost, of course, would be Purple Rain.


“Purple Rain” from the film


“Purple Rain” live at the American Music Awards, 1985

“Purple Rain” performed at the Super Bowl, 2007

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #518: Prince & The Revolution – “Purple Rain”

Prince purple rain Album: Purple Rain
Year: 1984

Literally don’t even know where to start here. How about this: this was Prince’s signature song. Sure, he had bigger singles (and in fact, cutting the “Purple Rain” down to 4:05 for its single was as stupid as when The Who cut “Won’t Get Fooled Again” down to 3:36, I mean why even bother?), but I don’t think he had a bigger song. On every level.

I mean, you could imagine going to a Prince concert and not seeing any other song, but going to a Prince concert and not seeing “Purple Rain” seems totally unimaginable.

I don’t know, of course, because the only Prince concert I ever saw was when Tim & I saw the infamous opening set for the Rolling Stones. You know, where the fucking “only one way to rock” assholes booed and booed and threw stuff at him.

I don’t think I had heard Prince yet, but I certainly had been reading about him in the wake of Dirty Mind, and I was dead curious. At the time, I was more dismayed at the booing, and I seem to recall that the sound volume was underwhelming, to boot. All in all, all I knew for sure was that Prince in 1981 was a thing I didn’t quite get.

But as always, I assumed that was on me.

Meanwhile, I’ve often wondered how many of the bros who booed him ended up loving him just a few years later. I’d like to think all of them, but that’s probably optimistic. At least some of them, right?

I mean, how can you not love “Purple Rain?”

First off, it’s got that big, repeaty gospelish chorus, with a shitton of reverb on Prince as if he’s preaching from a radio station that’s beaming god’s own word directly into our souls.

And then there’s the guitar solo, which — along with the equally transcendent “whoooo-hooo-hooo-hooos” — dominates the back half of the song.

I’ve just now made up a theory that iconic guitar solos often fall into one of two categories. There are the ones that build and build into they climax: you know, like “Stairway to Heaven” or “Rock Bottom.” Then there are those ones that kind of meander out ahead of the song for a while until the song catches back up with them, like “Down by The River” or “Marquee Moon.”

While “Purple Rain” is closer to the latter than the former, it charts a different path. It starts off wandering around, flirts with the conventional “deedleley-deedlely-deedleley” for a bit, but settles instead for a repeating phrase that anchors the rest of the song.

It is, of course, the sound of the purple rain falling from the skies. What else could it be?

That’s what’s on the album, and the film. And, of course, the performance in the film was transcendent enough to justify all of the self-indulgence that preceded it.

One of the tropes that’s been resurrected in the wake of Prince’s passing was that 1984 was one of the greatest years ever for pop music, what with the waning of Thriller coinciding with Purple Rain, Like a Virgin and Born in the U.S.A., to say nothing of Cyndi Lauper, Tina Turner, The Police and Van Halen.

All I can say is, sure why not? These things are nearly impossible to quantify, but there was great music everywhere in 1984, coming from every part of the dial and still spewing 24 hours a day from the MTV, and it sure seemed like the confluence of “good” and “popular” was extremely high that year.

So if you could somehow create a graph of 1984 in music with “Good” as the X-axis and “Popular” as the Y-axis, there would probably be an abnormally high number of entires in the upper right-hand quadrant. And uppermost, of course, would be Purple Rain.


“Purple Rain” from the film


“Purple Rain” live at the American Music Awards, 1985

“Purple Rain” performed at the Super Bowl, 2007

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

Certain Songs #495: Geto Boys – “Mind Playing Tricks on Me”

geto boys mind
Album: We Can’t Be Stopped
Year: 1991

The key to Gangsta rap’s massive popularity was, of course, larger-than-life celebrations of the dangers and rewards of the gang-banging lifestyle, as millions of teenagers who would freeze from fear from actually having live any of these scenarios got off pretending they were as hard as the guys in the songs.

Kinda like superhero comics. In fact, somebody should chart the rise of the popularity of superhero comics vs. the popularity of gangsta rap. No black superheros? Have you ever heard “Midnight” by Ice-T? That’s some Batman-level shit right there.

Anyways, my problem was that I was slightly older, so while I appreciated the reportage, the violence and misogyny always made me uneasy. So I mostly gravitated to songs that looked at the life from different angles — the devastating “Dead Homiez;” the exhilarating “Gotta Lotta Love” and the paranoiac “Mind Playing Tricks on Me.”

Rapping over a icy cool Isaac Hayes sample, the Geto Boys spin verse after verse filled with same themes that powered six seasons of The Sopranos — that a life where you fuck people over on a regular basis, a life where you could be killed at any moment — “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” tells stories that could come right out of a session with Dr. Melfi:

Day by day it’s more impossible to cope
I feel like I’m the one that’s doing dope
Can’t keep a steady hand because I’m nervous
Every Sunday morning I’m in service
Playing for forgiveness
And trying to find an exit out of the business
I know the Lord is looking at me
But yet and still it’s hard for me to feel happy
I often drift while I drive
Havin fatal thoughts of suicide
BANG and get it over with
And then I’m worry-free, but that’s bullshit

In the end, Bushwick Bill is down on his knees pounding the concrete while hallucinating a beatdown, and the song just fades to black, with no relief in sight.

And man, what if David Chase thought to score that last scene of The Sopranos to “Mind Playing Tricks on Me” instead of that fucking Journey song? Maybe it would have been too on the nose — as we see all of those folks at the diner who might or might not be ready to kill him — but it would be kind of cool to see how that scene would play.

That said, Tony Soprano wouldn’t be caught dead listening to this song,

Every Certain Song Ever
A filterable, searchable & sortable database with links to every “Certain Song” post I’ve ever written.

Check it out!

Certain Songs Spotify playlist
(It’s recommended that you listen to this on Spotify as their embed only has 200 songs.)

Support “Certain Songs” with a donation on Patreon
Go to my Patreon page

The Daily Loper – Dec 17, 2010

Today’s links of interest: