In 1984, I sat in a dark theater watching Purple Rain. I’d gone to the movie by myself. Except I was never really “by myself.” In the row behind me were two Secret Service agents. I was going to be getting married in a month, I was going to be First Daughter for another 4 years, and I was about to “sign off” from the Secret Service — something you’re not supposed to even know about, let alone do. But I wasn’t a minor, I actually did have some legal rights to my freedom, and I couldn’t stand being followed around 24/7 any longer. So I had made a decision, despite the risks that were described to me in colorful detail.

I wasn’t sure about any of this — the marriage, the moniker of First Daughter, getting rid of the Secret Service, which did admittedly put me in some danger. I wasn’t sure about myself. I felt trapped by circumstances beyond my control, uncertain about my own choices, and angry at life in general.

There on the screen was Prince, battling circumstances beyond his control — an abusive home-life, a musical rival out to tear him down, his own demons. The film hit me so powerfully that, by the time Prince sang  Purple Rain, tears were streaming down my face. For weeks after, I played the soundtrack to the movie every day.

I sometimes imagined meeting Prince one day and telling him about the effect his film had on me. I imagined that he would laugh — that we would laugh — at the incongruity of a white girl raised in Pacific Palisades, whose father became President, identifying with and being emboldened by a story that was a million leagues away from her own. The song Purple Rain has, for all these years, made me tear up when I hear it. But now for different reasons…

We’ll never know how much more Prince could have told us with his music and his almost other-worldly talent. But he left us with a soundtrack for passages of our lives, and death can never take away that gift.

4 Responses to PURPLE RAIN

  1. David Marks says:

    I’ll sing it, if I have to, Patti, and I wouldn’t be ashamed to do so: you ring intimacy as if it were borne of your soul, and I admire that about you. There are so many unanswered questions about this enigmatic star, but it’s stories like yours which bring Prince home, and that home is nestled in your heart and in your honesty.

  2. Chet Rhodes says:

    You are such a good writer, Patti. I like the way you express yourself and especially in this timely post. Thank you.

  3. Lindsay Brice says:

    This is the power of art, to connect us deeply even if we never meet. Prince reached you through his art in film and music, and you reach us today with your beautiful writing about deeply touching thoughts we relate to, no matter where we are or where we came from.
    We still have art, even when the artist has gone. Prince’s universal magic will be with us always.
    Thank you for writing, sharing your gifts, giving your art.

  4. Edward Jenny says:

    Prince will be missed for all he may have done, but he also had done more than most … have to say you have a clean, yet magic touch about the way you weave your words and emotional depth into these swatches of life … we appreciate your talent and openness. Be well, Peace.

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