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What Is Purple Rain?

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I remember when PURPLE RAIN, the Movie, came out some 20 years ago. But I only this year saw it.

The film was okay, but nothing special. Prince plays a young Minnesota rock singer struggling to “make it” in the music industry without “selling out” his musical vision. At the same time, he’s struggling with his personal issues: his father’s abusive past and his own sexist attitudes.

In the end, Prince “makes it” while maintaining his integrity, he comes to terms with his father, and he learns to be more sensitive to women.

The strength of the film is not the story, but the music, which is quite good. But MY BIG QUESTION: Just WHAT IS PURPLE RAIN?

I’ve listened to the lyrics, and I can’t figure it out. Is it a metaphor for something? If so, for what? Or did he just call it Purple Rain because it sounded like a cool thing?

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About Thomas M. Sipos

  • I don’t know if “purple rain” has a specific reference point, but he had a big thing going for the apocalypse, the whole Revelations thing. His background was Seventh Day Adventist, which goes to explaining “1999” and “7” among other things. I’ve always taken it to mean something like that he just hopes to see his beloved survive whatever apocalypse is getting ready to end the world, or some such religious fantasy.

  • He wrote Purple Rain because of Purple Haze (Jimi Hendrix)

  • Was 1999 supposed to signal the apocalypse, Al?

  • Puple Rain is region specific and happens in the wake of evaporation of the waters of Lake Minnetonka. Especially when Prince is gettin’ babes to purify themselves in it.

  • Law

    Purple Rain is the creative love of God

  • jc

    never figured out what prince meant. but purple rain: apartheid protests in cape town in 1989. police shot water cannons with purple dye onto protestors. then if police found you dyed purple you were arrested.

  • Purple rain does indeed refer to the creative love of God. See Alice Walker’s amazing novel.

    There’s also this quote: “I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it.”

  • Steven

    I first heard the words purple rain in a 1970s song by America “Ventura Highway”. I believe in that song the meaning was a feeling of wanting to escape from responsibility.

  • Monty

    yes purple rain is a lot of definitions. Poluted rain like acid rain, Sperm, a restlist mood from emotional confinement, boredom, a drink, one part strawberry soda one part cough syrp one part crushed coedine

  • Eric

    Not sure either…I was a Prince fan growing up. I never knew what it meant. Thought about it a few times. Did he ever explain what he meant in any interviews? To me…if you read the lyrics…it seems like a woman’s tears of joy who is wearing maskera. If she cries and the maskera runs…you have purple rain.

  • When I was young I vaguely remember my father talking about a chemical that was sprayed on the foliage in Vietnam to set it on fire. No I don’t mean agent Orange. Jimmy Hendrix wrote about a purple haze after a soldier came back and told him about how they’d all sit together smoking joints in the jungle waiting the the purple rain to fall.

  • gonza

    I think that Prince took this idea of “purple haze” from Hendrix.
    When he says purple rain he mean some kind of perfection. He only wish to see the girl happy.

    -Sorry about my English :S

  • J

    possibly religious,hindu,purple rain the highest level of heaven

  • nephyjean

    I think he likes purple…it is the color of passion. Also, making love is called “making purple” because boys are blue and girls are pink..when they meet they mix and make purple. so, I think he is referring to sexual passion and the drifting of consciousness..purple rain.

  • DLO

    One writer quoted that “Purple Rain” meant the creative love of God. When God created us we were in the nude. Therefore, when the song states that “I only won’t to see you standing in the “Purple Rain” it meant “I only won’t to see you standing in the nude”.

  • terrikhat

    I think purple rain is just a metaphor for perfect love and happiness.

  • Jaman

    The song “Purple Rain” is about a man and a woman who are deeply in love, but for whatever reason are on the verge of breaking up. In a final expression of his love for her, the man pleas for the woman’s eternal salvation. Purple Rain is a metaphor for salvation.

  • kat1982

    I think purple rain means his spiritual leadership over the young woman. Purple also is the colour of passion and intamacy. . there is also a sense of distrust about the colour purple as it also symbolizes war. .

  • mojaverob

    i agree with steven, the 1st time i heard the term purple rain was from “Ventura Highway” by America in 1970.

  • Helegnaro

    Prince his purple rain is NOT related to jimi hendrix!
    It’s about his father, it says in the movie

  • Kcgirl

    Hendrix- Purple Haze. They are related metaphors.