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My $.02 | The Best of Other People Tributing Purple Rain

Anyone who knows me, knows how I feel about Prince. He has always been the consummate entertainer for me. It was never a contest. And what I love and admire about him is that he only became greater with time. As I grew older. As I gained the  ability to poke more and more holes in everyone else’s perfection, and as I became more and more perforated and imperfect myself. Prince … stayed perfect.

So much has been said about his music and his influence. All of it does justice to who he was. To minorities. To women. To musicians. To independent thinkers. To honest people. To those who fight everyday to make the alternative the mainstream. And ultimately, to those who just don’t give a damn.

He’s so much  more than Purple Rain. It’s not even my favorite Prince song. But I felt compelled to capture all the tributes to Purple Rain in one place. Here. Now. If for no other reason than to have it for myself.

These are not ranked. They can’t be. Try and rank them yourself. You’ll succeed. Until you go back and listen to them over again and re-rank everything.

Adam Levine – Purple Rain (for Howard Stern) – Calm down. Maroon 5 was special about 15 years ago (even a little prior.) Adam Levine has a unique voice, has some guitar skills. And if you leave this tribute not a fan, watch it again. Until you do. The fact that he did this several years ago is, IMHO, the ultimate tribute. It wasn’t a eulogy. It was a living tribute to a living legend. No nostalgia, just a superstar showing fandom for one of the greatest.

Bruce Springsteen – Purple Rain (Barclay’s Center) – It’s outstanding to see this respect reciprocated. Prince considered Bruce to be one of the greatest stage leaders and frontmen ever. An individual with an amazing command of the audience and his band, who was able to evolve sets on stage with the wave of a hand and eye contact. Hearing The Boss pay his respects was beautiful because of the level of appreciation between the two of them, one that most probably never knew existed. I love Bruce’s voice at the most energetic moments of this song too. Chilling.

Damien Escobar – Purple Rain (Violin Cover) – Prince, more than any other musician around, spoke through his performances. His songs told amazing stories. His outfits told amazing stories. But most powerfully, his instruments (every single one he played) spoke to you. That’s what makes this song so powerful. That’s what makes Purple Rain so powerful. Try and separate the words from the music in your head. It’s hard. Which is why Damien Escobar’s inversion, applying the violin to Prince’s vocals, is so beautiful.

The Color Purple Cast – Purple Rain (Broadway) – Thank you Jennfer Hudson for making this happen. Thank you more for stepping back from the opening and turning it over to Cynthia Erivo. Jennifer Hudson oversings early, but she then closes strong. When you think about the timing of the book itself (The Color Purple came on the scene as Prince came into his own, timed perfectly in the early 80’s) and the message behind the book (few books took on sexism and racism as powerfully and vocally — and explicitly as The Color Purple), it makes sense that this cast did this legend justice. Because few musicians did more to combat racism and sexism with their actions, than the Purple One.

Kelly Clarkson – Purple Rain (Fan Request) – Wow. I forget how talented American Idol singers used to be. 🙂 This is beautiful and shows how diverse Prince’s reach is, and it shows how many options there are to make a song work across genres. It’s also a testament to Prince that the greatest song of the 80’s is androgynous, asexual, and pan-racial in its own right. Just like he. Is.

Jimmy Buffet – Purple Rain – Why? Because it’s Jimmy Buffet. The Guardian said it best: “Buffet is famed in the US for purveying the “island escapist” lifestyle to baby boomers. And for owning two restaurant chains named after his songs – Cheeseburger in Paradise and Margaritaville. A peformance of Purple Rain was probably the last thing his fans expected.”

The Waterboys –  Purple Rain (largely, beautifully, acoustic) – Perhaps the most unique version of this song I’ve heard. I learned early on that the power of a song shone through when you stripped it of its production, simplified the arrangement, and sand the heck out of it. This is, that version. Touches me as much as when I heard Springsteen do Born in the USA, acoustic, solo, under a spotlight, at MSG. Mostly because I never thought of this song as being sung this way.

I couldn’t embed the video so this is 2 for 1; click on the link above for a great in studio version, or the one below for an Opera House extended play version. I prefer the one above.

David Gilmour – Purple Rain (with Comfortably Numb) (<<CLICK LINK TO WATCH VIDEO) – Maybe I love the idea of Pink Floyd and Purple Rain because, as a color blind man, I have no idea if they match. But I grew up listening to Pink Floyd. When one of my uncles got his brand new Bose speakers — think of the old school 301’s – we broke them in by laying down on the floor, staring up at the ceiling, and listening to ALL of The Wall. All of it. So when I caught wind of this, union of two songs with choruses that force me to sing at the top of my lungs (even when I’m not singing out loud, you’ll see my eye balls roll up into my head) I had to listen. And … it’s all I expected it to be. The transition in at the 4:30 mark is so subtle it shows you how well, well composed songs can be melded by beautiful musicians.

<No video embed. Please click on the link above.>

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TMLFYI… | Tito

Tita Fai

Hi Foi,

Tito. Tito. Tito. It’s said more like “teeeeeee, toeeeeee” than like “Jackson” which makes it so much more fun for kids to say. It makes sense, doesn’t it? That you would have such a fun name to say. Because kids love to say your name so much and so often. I know my older sister, Raina Ben, does. I’m still finding my words, but I expect to be able to say it soon too. And my guess is that it’s going to be one of my favorite words when I do.

Happy Birthday Tito Foi. You and I formed a bond very early. I remember when you took two weeks off of work when I was born to stay in the house and stay at home with me and Mommy when Daddy had to go back to work. It’s those little things you do that I’ll always remember.

I love that you sing to me. Music is one of my favorite things. You know that because on your first birthday with me, you took me to music class. I had to get my sense of music from someone, and everyone knows that Daddy is tone deaf. (I love him anyway.)

More than anything, I love to see you happy. Mommy and Daddy always talk about your heart. How it can sometimes get hurt. How it can sometimes feel pain. But how it always overflows. You have so much love to give, and that excites the heck out of me. Mostly because I know I’m going to be spoiled.

Totally ok with that, by the way.

Today’s your birthday, but I feel like it’s mine. Because you took the day off to spend it with me. Because you took me to music class while my Mommy gets a much needed vacation in Mexico. Because you soothe me when you sing, both when you’re here and when I listen to your CD. (Remember when we sang together at Ba’s party earlier this week? Let’s do more of that.)

So Happy Birthday, my lovely Tito Foi. I can’t wait to grow up with you by my side. And I hope I grow up with a heart that’s half as big as yours. If I do, I think I’ll end up a pretty good person. Maybe that’s your gift to me? Or maybe our gift to each other is knowing that winter, spring, summer or fall, all we’ll have to do is call…

Love you,

Munchkin

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TMLFYI… | Musical

Anaiya Music Pano

Not in a hip hop way. Like when nobody’s around and I drop lyrics on you in a flow that isn’t disruptive to your eardrums without compromising
the integrity of the song (good hip hop like good folk music can withstand changes to music, IMHO.)

Today my love for you is musical in a kiddie musical kind of way. Why? Because Mommy took you and me to our first music class today. Wow, were you adorable. First off, you were the youngest by a mile. The closest was Alton who’s 10 months old. After that, everyone was in — gulp — YEARS!

Anaiya Music

But you held your own my baby. The interesting thing for me was that we showed up and you were already in sleep mode. Yawning on the stroller ride over. Full stomach in tow. I mean, these were prime sleeping conditions for you. But we got there, and the music was playing, and the teacher was singing, and you were all about it. Not a peep. Not a tear. Maybe a yawn or two. But otherwise, you were invested in this class. Sitting on your Mommy’s lap (let it be known that I was the only Daddy within miles of this class.) 

You love music, baby. You love when your Mom sings “Happy” to you. You love when your Fia sings to you (just about anything.) You love when certain music plays in the background. And though nobody really knows it, you actually enjoy it when I’m rapping to you. So this makes sense.

But you also don’t always do things that make sense. Like when you fight sleep and shake your head to keep yourself awake. That doesn’t make sense. It’s awesome and adorable and cruel to watch at the same time. But it doesn’t make any sense.

You know what makes sense though? You loving this moment as much as I did.

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