A Purple Friday

The obvious thing to write about today if I was following the herd, would be the death of Prince, the great purple one. Actually, I will follow the masses today, as I did want to touch briefly on the sudden end to his music career.

In terms of music coming out of Minneapolis (Prince’s hometown) in the 1980s, I was a fan of The Replacements and Hüsker Dü. I knew of Prince, but he was too commercial for my tastes at the time. In terms of popularity, he tended to curry favor with the mainstream music crowd that I looked upon with disparagement.

According to Wikipedia, Prince sold more than 100 million records worldwide, making him one of the best-selling artists of all-time. I knew he was popular, but didn’t know his sales were that substantial.

I always enjoy catching Purple Rain, whenever it runs in the loop of B-fare movies that show up across cable television. There’s something about him that obviously resonated with his followers. For me, his appeal was that of observing a prodigious musical talent, but from a distance. Prince’s death is similar for me in many ways to David Bowie’s—if you knew anything about music, you never were not aware of either Prince, or Bowie.

Prince is frozen in Purple Rain in my memory.

Prince is frozen in Purple Rain in my memory.

You could call Prince enigmatic and be fine with that characterization. I remember his performance at the 2007 Super Bowl. It was one of the better halftime shows in terms of what is usually pretty tepid in terms of musical excitement.

Unlike with Bowie’s death, none of the local stations seem to have any Prince records in their collection. If they do, they aren’t spinning them.

Late yesterday and first thing this morning, I scanned the dial only to hear the usual warmed over music fare. Apparently WCYY played some Prince yesterday, according to our hard news brethren, like WCSH-6. WBLM was barraging us with Bad Company and Billy Joel, like they have been since 1977. Even WMPG, the community alternative had their usual Friday morning metal.

Streaming radio is probably my best bet today to pick up some Prince signals.

5 thoughts on “A Purple Friday

  1. Prince Day it is. I must admit, I was shocked to read of his death. I will remember him as a man of high energy and talent and I do agree, his Super Bowl performance was fantastic. He also did a great guitar solo in a tribute to George Harrison. According to news sources, he was working on an autobiography. Rest in Peace, Prince.

  2. I like that, observing a prodigious talent… from a distance. He was always on his own plan, he knew what he wanted. He and Lemmy should have done a project together, it would have been outstanding.

    Oddly, if I had to pick a “peer” for Prince, it would be Elvis Costello. Nearly every word we could write for Prince could be written for him, too.

    Gone too young, but not before he left a mark.

  3. I still find it odd that you can’t find a radio station up and down the dial here in Maine playing Prince’s music. Finally heard one song on WBLM, “Raspberry Beret.”

    Bowie was all over the airwaves for days after he died. I’m not complaining, just noting the difference.

    Lemmy and Prince–interesting indeed. Too bad it never happened.

  4. It was the same here. The only place I actually heard Prince played was on MPBN! I’m listening to WMNF via the internet, they’re not spinning him, either, and they spun Bowie non-stop for a week.

    Remember, Lemmy started with Hawkwind, he knew how to be “out there.” But think of it, Lemmy driving underneath, Prince scrambling to keep up on top. I’m all for forcing a lot of stars out of their comfort zones, this would have been a great project.

    Why no airplay? I’m guessing a couple of things. Prince is very unsafe, in a way Bowie never was. Much of his lyrical content was flatly obscene, over-the-top suggestive. He hasn’t had a hit since the 1980s, and his long-running war with record labels left him without the system to pump his music. Yet he accumulated hundreds of millions and played by his own rules. No part of the machine knew what to do with his music for the last thirty years, not a surprise they don’t know what to do now, even his old hits (seriously, I have that double album from about 1986, blunt assessments of the disaster that blacks had brought upon themselves–Prince didn’t play the game.)

    Prince with the E Street Band, there’s another tour, lighting a real R&B fire under that bunch. Ah, too late.

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