© 2024 Louisville Public Media

Public Files:
89.3 WFPL · 90.5 WUOL-FM · 91.9 WFPK

For assistance accessing our public files, please contact info@lpm.org or call 502-814-6500
89.3 WFPL News | 90.5 WUOL Classical 91.9 WFPK Music | KyCIR Investigations
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations
Stream: News Music Classical

SoundTRAX: "Purple Rain"

 Prince sits on a purple motorcycle framed by flowers.
Warner Bros.

SoundTRAX is a dive into notable music from iconic films and TV shows every Monday-Thursday at 8:10.

Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here today to talk about the 39th anniversary of Purple Rain.

There are so many things to marvel about when it comes to this film and its music.

The fact that Prince— a genius to be sure— but also a man so soft-spoken you could barely hear him speak in interviews, could make such a compelling debut performance in a film is astonishing. Sure, the plot mirrored many aspects of his own life, but he was a natural on camera.

Prince stars as "The Kid," a brilliant musician with a volatile relationship with his parents and an eye for another wanna-be star, played by Apollonia Kotero. His ego causes problems in the relationship, within his band, and at the club where he works.

Which brings me to an appreciation of his musical rival, played by a gloriously over-the-top Morris Day. His antics often make it hard to root for Prince.

And, oh, that soundtrack.

Absurdly strong from start to finish, the release would be Prince's first number one album and would stay on the Billboard chart for 122 weeks. It's in the Grammy Hall of Fame and the Library of Congress National Recording Registry, plus continues to make appearances on just about every publication's "best of" lists.

Now, how on earth to pick a SoundTRAX selection from it?

How about the one that was intended to be a country song in collaboration with none other than Stevie Nicks?

Stevie told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that after Prince played keyboards on her classic tune "Stand Back" in 1983, she told him she wanted to work with him again. So Prince sent her a cassette with a 10-minute instrumental on it, asking her to write the lyrics.

"It was so overwhelming… I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and sad, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.'"

To this day Stevie says she doesn't regret it, because then Prince wrote it himself, becoming the masterpiece we all know today.

Sadly, it would also be the last song he ever performed live, at his final concert in Atlanta in 2016. A week later he was tragically gone.

But the legacy remains, as does his sweeping epic of a song.

For the 39th anniversary of Purple Rain, it's Prince with the legendary title song.

Mel is the WFPK morning host. Email Mel at mfisher@lpm.org.

Can we count on your support?

Louisville Public Media depends on donations from members – generous people like you – for the majority of our funding. You can help make the next story possible with a donation of $10 or $20. We'll put your gift to work providing news and music for our diverse community.