"Purple Rain" is a power ballad by Prince and the The Revolution. It was his third US single (second UK) and title track from the 1984 album of the same name, which in turn was the soundtrack album for the 1984 film of the same name. The song is an emotional combination of rock and roll, pop and gospel music. It reached #2 in the U.S., and is widely considered Prince's signature song.
The song was recorded live at the Minneapolis club First Avenue in 1983. The performance was the live debut of Wendy Melvoin, and also netted the final three songs of the Purple Rain album, although the songs would undergo studio overdubs later. Purple Rain's original lyrics contained an extra verse about money, which was edited out, as it diluted the emotional impact of the song.
"Purple Rain" opens with a lone guitar quickly followed by live drumming and a prominent organ, evoking images of church gospel music. Three verses are followed by a chorus, with a building emotional delivery. After the final chorus, a guitar-solo takes over the song. The song ends with a piano solo and orchestral strings.
The emotional lyrics have multiple meanings; on the surface, they seem to be an apology from a man who has been carrying on an illicit love affair with a woman; though on a deeper level, they become more of a spiritual allegory. The song is a staple of Prince's live performances. He has played it on nearly every tour since 1984, except for a period after his name change when he avoided his older hits for a few years. At Super Bowl XLI's halftime show, in which he was the featured performer, "Purple Rain" was featured as the last song of his set and was, appropriately, played during a downpour at the stadium, which combined with the purple stage lighting created the song's signature image. Prince performed the song as the opening of a medley of his hits with Beyonce at the 2004 Grammys, and also at the 2006 Brits.
In order to be released as a single, the song's duration was shortened from 8:45 to 4:05.
The B-side, "God," is a much more overtly religious number (Prince's most religious to date), recalling the book of Genesis. The song also features extensive vocal experimentation. Towards the end, Prince mentions "The Dance Electric," which was a song given to former band member André Cymone. In the U.K., the 12" single also included an instrumental of "God," also known as "Love theme from Purple Rain," from which an edited portion appears in the film.
The Prince & The Revolution — Purple Rain clip can be downloaded for free and without registration.