My phone dinged Thursday when I was out of town for work. It was a text from my husband.
Did you hear about Prince?
I did. I had. A colleague from Minneapolis had gotten the news when we were exploring the Duke Gardens. An appropriate place to receive that kind of news, given the cover art of Purple Rain.
Yes :-(. Purple Rain was my first cassette tape that I bought with my own money.
I remember listening to that tape over and over and over again as a pre-teen: popping open the clear cassette case, hearing the clean scrape of plastic hinges, the satisfying tap of dropping the tape in the carrier, the clack of closing the cassette deck. Depressing the Play button. Pulling the liner notes out, unfolding them, reading every word. Staring starry-eyed at the picture of Prince on the cover while I listened. I don’t remember another cassette tape as vividly as I remember Purple Rain.
Brian took our son to his soccer game yesterday while I worked in the garden. When they returned home, Brian said, “I bought you a present.”
He presented me with Purple Rain.
My first record in our new collection.
I stopped whatever I was doing and sat down with the jacket while Brian put the disk on the turntable and started it spinning. It has probably been 25 years since I’ve listened to Purple Rain in its entirety. You know how when you listen to an album enough times, your mind jumps to the opening notes of the next song when the previous one ends? That still happened. After 25 years, when “Let’s go crazy” ended, “take me with u” queued up in my mind in the silence before it actually began playing. I remembered the words to every song on the album.
I’m listening again now, as I type this, before I go back out in the garden. I’m on Side 1 again for the third time in two days. I can’t help but be moved. Purple Rain is a beautiful gift, both from my husband and from a barrier-breaking artist.
A tribute from my new favorite visual artist, Flora Forager: