I couldn’t help being struck by the article in Star Tribune about Stevie Nicks, former star of Fleetwood Mac. She has a new solo album out, “In Your Dreams”, and in a discussion about the tracks revealed that she had worked with Prince and nearly wrote the lyrics for what became Purple Rain.
Who would turn down a co-write with Prince?
In the interview, she recalls driving down Sunset Boulevard and humming along to “Little Red Corvette” by Prince. A thought came to her and she started writing her own lyrics using it as a starting point. When she went to record her track, she rang Prince, offered him half the song and wondered if he’d like to appear on it (he did). But rewind here: how much of what we hear is openly pimped from existing songs? Nicks actually spontaneously offered Prince a large slice of the credits. These are the sort of songwriting partners you want, folks!
But it gets even better. Nicks then suggested that they write something together. So Prince later sent her a 10-minute instrumental, the foundation of “Purple Rain”. “It was so overwhelming, that 10-minute track, that I listened to it and I just got scared,” Nicks told the Star Tribune. “I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.’ I’m so glad that I didn’t, because he wrote it, and it became ‘Purple Rain.'”
A different lyrical colour for Purple Rain?
It really is intriguing to think how “Purple Rain” could have been different. This was, after all, Prince’s iconic track. Although Nicks is between terribly modest, it is not inconceivable that the track could have been even better – who knows? I’m currently working on an album that is being translated into two other languages, and it’s fascinating to see how the same material can be approached.
What other improbably pairings have shaped music history? Tom Jones singing Prince was a good one. Tony Bennett and Amy Winehouse also spring to mind. Any others?
Full article on Star Tribune.