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I Am Skooter
So here's us, on the raggedy edge.
I think that ghosts like / The cooler weather / When leaves turn colour / They get together
— Hawksley Workman, Autumn's Here
December 16, 2014
Dig, If You Will, The Picture: Purple Rain at 30

Prince - Purple Rain Prince’s Purple Rain celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. That means I was 13 when the album and film was released, and holy cow do I remember that year: dearly beloved, Prince was everywhere. It was an electric thing this album called Purple Rain but I’m here to tell you there’s something else—the movie.

Purple Rain is probably the worst movie with the greatest soundtrack you’ll ever hear.

I’d never seen Purple Rain. It had a restricted rating when it was released, and I was—as I said—only 13. The movie showed up on TV for sure, but I’ve never really loved watching movies on TV so I guess I just never watched it. Last night, the Vancity Theatre in Vancouver screened it as part of their Music Mondays series and I figured for $7, why not.

Oh boy. What a movie. It’s tempting to call the dialog wooden, but I’ve got wood furniture that I quite like and I don’t want to introduce guilt by association. The acting is horrible, there’s the barest thread of a plot that runs through the film mostly as a reason to string together Prince’s musical performances. Those performances were filmed at the 1st Ave. club in Minnesota. I was lucky enough to visit that place a few years ago and I suspect for the audience at those gigs that’s a pretty solid memory—it’s a small room, and Prince is a big personality: the shows would have been killer.

Calling the movie mysoginist doesn’t even begin to describe it. As far as I can tell the core message of the movie is that it’s not cool to smack women around, but it’s a great idea to objectify them on stage wearing hardly any clothes on. Well, it’s Prince after all…go figure.

Still, that album. Purple Rain is one of the greatest rock and roll albums ever recorded. There’s not a bad track on it, and its legacy is ensured by Darling Nikki, the song most often cited as the inspiration for Tipper Gore’s campaign to label albums with lyrics that might be deemed offensive.

The movie’s so bad that it almost taints the album by association. After walking out of that movie it’s hard to imagine wanting to listen to its soundtrack. Fortunately, the album’s so strong that the memory starts to fade almost as soon as the first guitar chord is hit in Let’s Go Crazy. By the time you get to When Doves Cry all that horrible acting and bad writing is a distant memory and you’re well on the road to that glorious eight minute finale.

Maybe I was better off never having seen the film in the first place, but somehow I think I’ll be able to keep it hidden away. Some things are better off forgotten.

Posted by skooter at 8:05 PM This entry is filed under Music.
This entry is tagged: Prince, Purple Rain

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