The summer of 1984 was the summer of Springsteen, Ghostbusters, and Madonna, but more than anything that summer’s soundtrack was Purple Rain. You couldn’t escape Prince, the songs, or the movie, and I was one of the millions who fell under its spell. I was a teenager working as a camp counselor that summer, and it was the beginning of a lifelong obsession with the Purple One: his racial and sexual ambiguity, his warring themes of sexuality and spirituality, and most of all the rockin’ funky brilliance of his music. "Let’s Go Crazy," "Darling Nikki," and most of all "When Doves Cry" were all unlike anything I’d ever heard before — transgressive, titillating, just plain buck wild — and that was before I discovered the unparalleled brilliance of "Computer Blue" and "The Beautiful Ones." And the album version of "Purple Rain" will always be my personal anthem — romantic, bombastic, silly, profound, beautiful, but in the end, perfect.
I had my first beer that summer, at a showing of the Purple Rain movie, thanks to Dean Haspiel, and I’ll always credit Prince and that album for profoundly loosening me up. Up to then, I had been a weirdly repressed and judgmental kid; something about the Purple Rain summer helped get that stick out of my ass. Probably a month hasn’t gone by since 1984 that I haven’t listened to Purple Rain; it’s cool to hear the songs out in the zeitgeist again amidst all the tributes.