Monday, June 13, 2011

Day One: My Favorite Song

Today marks the beginning of my personal 30 Day Song Challenge journey. The rules are simple. Every day I choose a song that corresponds to a preset list of categories. Today’s is pretty straight forward- my favorite song.

The choosing of a favorite song seems pretty simple. It’s the one song that has been with you through good times and bad. It’s there for you when you need it and sits passively in its designated itunes space when it is not. In my life, I have had many favorite songs. Many of them were fleeting flirtations lacking longevity and any real substance. Designating a tried and true favorite song is not as simple as it seems. There are many criteria to be considered, some being:

  • How long have you and said song been together
  • How much is your happiness quotient increased by said song
  • Does said song make you excited to be alive
  • How many/what memories have been attached to said song
  • What is it about said song that speaks to you so personally
  • Does the knowledge that said song exists increase your faith in humanity
  • Does said song bring about any feelings of negativity or horror-if so, then it may be time to dump said song as favorite

These are a basic things to ponder when choosing a favorite song. Mostly though, what appeals to our senses about our favorite song falls into that cavernous abyss where language is of no practical value. Our reactions to our favorite songs appeal to us on an emotional level. For me and my favorite song, the reactions are not only based on nostalgia and emotion but also on the fact that the song has a physical effect on my being. No matter how many times I have heard this song, it still sucker punches me in the gut whenever it plays. It literally makes the hair on my arms stand on edge and sends ice cold shivers down my spine. If happenstance brings it into my life at an inopportune moment there is a good chance I will internally tweak out.

Purple Rain, the album and title track, were a staple in my home as a child. The album and movie were released in 1984, the year of my birth, and showcase my beloved hometown, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Lucky for me, the late 80’s brought us an amazing fitness craze in the form of mini-trampolines (mini tramps) and I spent many an hour bouncing the day away to Prince songs. My mother’s furious crush on the purple God ensured that a Princeless day was a rarity in our household. This also led to the inevitable Prince back-lash I contracted as a tween-to-teen. I turned my back on the Minneapolitan legend, writing him off as a dated has been. He was someone of my Mom’s generation whose sound had become archaic and represented all that was tacky about the 1980’s. It wasn’t until my Senior year in High School when I would find Prince again.

During my Junior year of High School my friendship group shifted and broadened. For the first time I had a legitimate circle of friends and with that came exposure to a variety of likes, interests, drama, and tragedy. The last day of Junior year was spent traipsing around the Twin Cities, and eventually rural Wisconsin, with these new(ish) friends. One of them had been an acquaintance whom was slowly blossoming into a friend. As I found out later that summer, at his funeral, his favorite album was Purple Rain. The loss of life of someone so close and so young was shocking to us who were barely emotionally equipped to deal with such tragedy. We spent many a humid summer evening driving around blasting the Purple Rain album and attempting to deal with the gamut of emotions barraging our adolescent senses. Although I cannot claim him as a close personal friend I was profoundly changed by his passing and still attribute him with giving me back my favorite song/album.

A few years later I found myself, at the age of 20, entering into the cohabitative phase of an increasingly serious relationship. Through this domestic partnership a record player was brought into my life and a love for vinyl soon flourished. My first outing to specifically buy records happened the summer of 2004 at a small record store in Saint Paul named Roots Cellar. That day I bought George Michael’s “Faith”, Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer”, The Pointer Sisters “So Excited!” and Prince’s “Purple Rain.” The album cover features him on his motorcycle clad in a purple velvet jacket in a seedy Minneapolis alley with Apollonia 6 posing seductively in a nearby doorway. Afternoons were spent that summer blaring Purple Rain and dancing. Later, we found ourselves with dog. Often I would sweep my little bundle of canine bliss up in my arms and slow dance him around the apartment to the epic ballad.

Purple Rain the movie holds a special place in my heart because the main setting, First Avenue, has been a seminal establishment in my development. From the variety of amazing shows, to SNDP (Sunday Night Dance Party), to Too Much Love (the current incarnation of SNDP only on Saturday nights), First Ave has marked some of the most important moments of my maturation process. Plus, the final scene of the movie when Prince performs Purple Rain, proving all the haters wrong, is so completely badass that you have to give the dude major props.

I have seen Prince live twice. The first time was with my best friend, Ned, at Excel Energy Center in Saint Paul, MN . The tickets were expensive, our view was obstructed, and I was completely unfamiliar with the Musicology album, but even so, Prince brought it. The second time, which happened a little over two weeks ago, was at the Forum in Los Angeles with my BF Kyle and our lovely friends Chris and Margaret. Although we were a bit far up, this past Prince experience was a game changer. He brought energy the likes of which I have never seen. The man gyrated, showcased elaborate outfits, had hot twins as back up dancers, played all the hits with enthusiasm and style, jammed, rocked out, and showcased the unique Price sex appeal that launched him to superstardom in the 80’s. His dynamism and tenacity paired with his exceptional musical talents make him, in my opinion, one of the greatest living artists of the day. I highly recommend everyone take in one of his shows, fan or not, no matter what the ticket price is.

For these reasons, and many more, Purple Rain is my favorite song.

Purple Rain lyrics

I never meant to cause you any sorrow
I never meant to cause you any pain
I only wanted one time to see you laughing
I only wanted to see you laughing in the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you bathing in the purple rain

I never wanted to be your weekend lover
I only wanted to be some kind of friend, hey
Baby, I could never steal you from another
It's such a shame our friendship had to end

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
I only wanted to see you underneath the purple rain

Honey, I know, I know, I know times are changin'
It's time we all reach out for something new, that means you too
You say you want a leader, but you can't seem to make up your mind
And I think you better close it and let me guide you to the purple rain

Purple rain, purple rain
Purple rain, purple rain
If you know what I'm singin' about up here, come on raise your hand
Purple rain, purple rain
I only want to see you, only want to see you in the purple rain

Next up: My Least Favorite Song

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