It’s Monday’s Music Moves Me time and today is a Freebie theme so I am continuing with my series A Kaleidoscope of Color Songs. Today’s playlist is the PURPLE edition, featuring my favorite songs with purple in the title. Here is my Purple playlist, followed by information and fun facts on each of the songs. And to learn what the color purple means, see the color interpretation at the end of the post. Enjoy!
Purple Haze by Jimi Hendrix – “Purple Haze” is a song written by Jimi Hendrix and released as the second record single by the Jimi Hendrix Experience on March 17, 1967. As a record chart hit in several countries and the opening number on the Are You Experienced debut American album, it was many people’s first exposure to Hendrix’s psychedelic rock sound.
The song features his inventive guitar playing, which uses the signature Hendrix chord and a mix of blues and Eastern modalities, shaped by novel sound processing techniques. Because of ambiguities in the lyrics, listeners often interpret the song as referring to a psychedelic experience, although Hendrix described it as a love song.
Hendrix claimed this was inspired by a dream where he was walking under the sea. In the dream, he said a purple haze surrounded him, engulfed him and got him lost. It was a traumatic experience, but in his dream his faith in Jesus saved him. At one point, Hendrix wrote the chorus as “Purple Haze, Jesus Saves,” but decided against it.
Hendrix claimed this had nothing to do with drugs, but it’s hard to believe they weren’t an influence. The lyrics seem to vividly portray an acid trip, and Hendrix was doing plenty of drugs at the time.
Hendrix wrote the lyrics on the day after Christmas in 1966. He wrote a lot more than what made it to the song. The track was developed at a press function that he attended at East London’s Upper Cut Club, run by the former boxer Billy Walker. Hendrix launched into the scorching riff in the club’s compact dressing room and every head turned. “I said, write the rest of that,” said Chandler. “That’s the next single!” It was premiered live on January 8,1967, in Sheffield in the north of England.
Jimi and producer Chas Chandler used some unusual studio tricks to get the unique sound. To create the background track that sounds distant, they put a pair of headphones around a microphone and recorded it that way to get an echo effect.
When the recording was sent to Hendrix’s American label, a note said, “deliberate distortion, do not correct.”
The track was the penultimate song Hendrix played in concert, on September 6, 1970, days before his death.
In March 2005, Q magazine ranked “Purple Haze” at number one in its list of the “100 Greatest Guitar Tracks Ever!” The song placed at number two on Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 Greatest Guitar Songs of All Time” list, which noted that the song “unveiled a new guitar language charged with spiritual hunger and the poetry possible in electricity and studio technology”. It also appears at number 17 on the magazine’s “500 Greatest Songs of All Time” list, with the comment that “it launched not one but two revolutions: late-Sixities psychedelia and the unprecedented genius of Jimi Hendrix”. Author and music critic Dave Marsh called it the “debut single of the Album Rock Era”. In 1995, “Purple Haze” was included as one of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”. NPR named the song to its list of the “100 Most Important American Musical Works of the 20th Century” in 2000. In 2008, it was given a Grammy Hall of Fame Award, which “honor[s] recordings of lasting qualitative or historical significance”.
In addition to the audio cut I included in my playlist, here is an early music video of Jimi Hendrix performing “Purple Haze”.
Purple Rain by Prince – “Purple Rain” is a song by Prince and The Revolution. It is the title track from the 1984 album of the same name, which in turn is the soundtrack album for the 1984 film of the same name, and was released as the third single from that album. The song is a combination of rock, R&B, gospel, and orchestral music. It reached number 2 in the United States for two weeks, and it is considered to be one of Prince’s signature songs. It was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America in 1984, shipping one million units in the United States, and was certified silver by the British Phonographic Industry in 2013.
Following Prince’s death in 2016, the song rose to number one on the US and UK iTunes Charts, allowing “Purple Rain” to re-enter the Billboard Hot 100 at number 17, later reaching number four. It also re-entered the UK Singles Chart at number 6, making it two places higher than its original peak of number 8. Originally peaking at number 12 in France, “Purple Rain” reached number one on the national singles chart. In the United States, it has sold an additional 1,186,215 copies after becoming available as digital downloads.
“Purple Rain” was originally written as a country song and intended to be a collaboration with Stevie Nicks. According to Nicks, she received a 10-minute instrumental version of the song from Prince with a request to write the lyrics, but felt overwhelmed. She said: “I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me.'” At a rehearsal, Prince then asked his backing band to try the song: “I want to try something before we go home. It’s mellow.” According to Lisa Coleman, Prince then changed the song after Wendy Melvoin started playing guitar chords to accompany the song: “He was excited to hear it voiced differently. It took it out of that country feeling. Then we all started playing it a bit harder and taking it more seriously. We played it for six hours straight and by the end of that day we had it mostly written and arranged.”
Prince explained the meaning of “Purple Rain” as follows: “When there’s blood in the sky – red and blue = purple… purple rain pertains to the end of the world and being with the one you love and letting your faith/god guide you through the purple rain.”
It was not the first time that the phrase “purple rain” appeared in the lyrics of a song. In November 1965, “Purple Rain Drops” was released as the B-side of “Uptight (Everything’s Alright),” which became a Top Ten hit for Stevie Wonder. The phrase appears again in the 1972 song: Top Ten-charting “Ventura Highway” by America. The latter song was written by Dewey Bunnell. The title track of Prince’s preceding album, 1999, included similar references to a doomed ending under a purple sky (“…could have sworn it was Judgment Day, the sky was all purple…”).
The song was written for the Purple Rain film, but it served Prince very well in concert, where it was often his showstopper. He retained many of the visual elements from the movie performance in his shows, which isn’t much of a stretch – the concert scenes were filmed at the First Avenue nightclub in Minneapolis, where Prince often performed.
On the tour to promote the album (conveniently called the “Purple Rain World Tour”), Prince’s band, The Revolution, would play the intro to this song for about eight minutes while Prince underwent a costume change before emerging in fresh duds to complete the performance.
Apparently Prince had concerns that “Purple Rain” might be too similar to Journey’s hit ballad “Faithfully.” The song’s composer, Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain, recalled to Billboard magazine that the Purple Legend rang him up at Columbia Records’ office in Los Angeles. “I want to play something for you, and I want you to check it out,” Prince told him. “The chord changes are close to ‘Faithfully,’ and I don’t want you to sue me.”
Cain had no problem with the song he heard. “I thought it was an amazing tune,” the Journey musician said. “I told him, ‘Man, I’m just super-flattered that you even called. It shows you’re that classy of a guy. Good luck with the song. I know it’s gonna be a hit.'”
Prince provided one of the most memorable Super Bowl halftime moments when he performed this song in the rain at the 2007 game between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears. After blasting through bits of several songs, he slowed things down for a sensuous rendition of “Purple Rain.” The stadium turned dark, and purple lights glistened through raindrops as Prince enraptured the crowd with a silhouetted guitar solo that produced a stunning visual. Colts fans will remember the game, but for the rest of us, Prince’s performance on the field was the highlight.
Prince admitted the success of the film and its music was overwhelming. “In some ways Purple Rain scared me,” he noted in The Observer. “It’s my albatross and it’ll be hanging around my neck as long as I’m making music.”
This was the last song Prince played live; it was the closing number at his April 14, 2016 concert at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta, which was his last, as he died a week later.
Purple Heather by Van Morrison – “Purple Heather” is from Northern Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison’s seventh studio album Hard Nose the Highway, released in 1973.
It is Morrison’s second solo album to contain songs not written by him. The last song on the album, “Purple Heather” is the traditional “Wild Mountain Thyme” written by F. McPeake as a variant of Robert Tannahill’s “The Braes of Balquhidder”, and re-arranged by Morrison.
“Wild Mountain Thyme” (also known as “Purple Heather” and “Will Ye Go, Lassie, Go?”) is a Scottish folk song written by Francis McPeake I, who wrote the song for his wife. Francis McPeake is a member of a well-known musical family in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The lyrics and melody are a variant of the song “The Braes of Balquhither” by Scottish poet Robert Tannahill (1774–1810). Tannahill’s original song is about the hills (braes) around Balquhidder near the Scottish village Lochearnhead. It was first published in Robert Archibald Smith’s Scottish Minstrel (1821–24).
Unless you’re a fan of Van Morrison, you probably haven’t heard this song. His Hard Nose the Highway album, on which “Purple Heather” appears, didn’t get great critical reception. According to Ritchie Yorke, the Australian-born author and music journalist who published Morrison’s biography, Into the Music in 1975, the album enjoyed rave reviews at the time of release. He cited one dissenting critic Charlie Gillett, who wrote in Let It Rock: “The trouble with Hard Nose the Highway is that although the music is quite often interesting, it doesn’t have a convincing emotional basis…Despite the lack of inspiration and of melodic focus, the record is attractive to listen to. But Van Morrison has set high standards for himself and Hard Nose the Highway doesn’t live up to them.”
Stephen Holden in his 1973 Rolling Stone review said: “Hard Nose the Highway is psychologically complex, musically somewhat uneven and lyrically excellent. Its surface pleasures are a little less than those of St. Dominic’s Preview and a great deal less than those of Tupelo Honey, while its lyric depths are richer and more accessible than those of either predecessor. The major theme of Hard Nose is nostalgia, briefly but firmly counter-pointed by disillusion.”
Later assessments in The Rolling Stone Record Guide (1979) and The Rolling Stone Album Guide (1992) were less generous. In the former, Hard Nose was listed as Morrison’s only one-star album to date; reviewer Dave Marsh called it “a failed sidestep, a compromise between the visionary demands of Morrison’s work and his desire for a broad-based audience.” In the later edition, Paul Evans called the record the “vaguest and weakest” of Morrison’s 1970s output.
In the opinion of biographer Erik Hage, “Hard Nose the Highway seems to have suffered a lot of unnecessary criticism—many commentators consider it his worst and most uninspired album—perhaps because it followed such a remarkable run of LPs, and because two truly forward-thinking albums had come before and after it (1972’s Saint Dominic’s Preview and 1974’s Veedon Fleece).”
Even so, I really like the song. Hopefully you all will too. (BTW, Rod Stewart also did a cover of this song).
Purple Sky by Kid Rock – “Purple Sky” is from Born Free, the eighth studio album by American musician Kid Rock. It was released on November 16, 2010 with the title track as its lead single. Unlike Rock’s other albums, this album does not contain any profane lyrics. Imagine that!
The album was produced by Rick Rubin featuring several high-profile artists such as T.I., Sheryl Crow, and Bob Seger. This is Kid Rock’s first album not to receive a Parental Advisory sticker (due to its lack of profanity) and is his first all-country album. Kid Rock describes it as “very organic blues-based rock and roll”.
“Purple Sky” was written by R. J. Ritchie, Marlon Young and Jason Boland. The song is an adaptation of “Telephone Romeo,” a track from Pearl Snaps, a 1999 Country album by Jason Boland & the Stragglers. Kid Rock explained to Billboard magazine: “That was started by Jason Boland, a country singer Oklahoma/Texas guy. I always enjoyed his stuff. I found that song, it was called ‘Telephone Romeo,’ it wasn’t quite there yet. I switched it around and made it about what I perceived to be a relationship about the girl you grow up next door to, she’s really the one you’re supposed to be with, but you’ve got to go out and see it all first yet to realize that.”
Purple People Eater novelty song – “The Purple People Eater” is a novelty song written and performed by Sheb Wooley, which reached no. 1 in the Billboard pop charts in 1958 from June 9 to July 14, reached no. 12 overall in the UK singles chart and topped the Australian charts.
“The Purple People Eater” is the novelty song to end all novelty songs. It’s one of the few rare cases where a pure novelty made it to #1 on the charts, for one thing. It’s also unusually long-lived, popping up again and again in cartoons, TV commercials, YouTube videos, and film soundtracks.
The song is notable for a confused impression people tend to get from it, which may be intentional. The creature’s full description is “a one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater,” but the lyrics make it clear that this is a creature who eats purple people. Yet whenever anyone is asked to depict the figure, they invariably make the creature itself purple, suggesting that it will eat people of any old color. It’s a natural impression to get considering the hail of adjectives. Incidentally, we also know that it isn’t a one-eyed creature who eats “one-horned flying purple people,” because the lyrics also have the creature “playing rock ‘n’ roll music through the horn in his head,” and also it is the creature, itself, who flies because the lyrics say it “came down to Earth and lit in a tree.”
“The Purple People Eater” tells how a strange creature (described as a “one-eyed, one-horned, flying, purple people eater”) descends to Earth because it wants to be in a rock ‘n’ roll band. The premise of the song came from a joke told by the child of a friend of Wooley’s; Wooley finished composing it within an hour.
The creature is not necessarily purple, but rather it eats purple people:
I said Mr Purple People Eater, what’s your line?
He said eating purple people, and it sure is fine
But that’s not the reason that I came to land
I wanna get a job in a rock ‘n roll band
The creature also gives an additional reason for choosing not to eat the narrator, because the narrator is “so tough”.
The ambiguity of the song was present when it was originally played on the radio. In responses to requests from radio disc jockeys, listeners drew pictures that show a purple-colored “people eater”.
The voice of the purple people eater is a sped-up recording, giving it a voice similar to, but not quite as high-pitched or as fast, as Mike Sammes’s 1957 “Pinky and Perky”, or Ross Bagdasarian’s “Witch Doctor”, another hit from earlier in 1958; and “The Chipmunk Song” which was released late in 1958. (The Chipmunks themselves eventually covered “Purple People Eater” for their 1998 album The A-Files: Alien Songs.) The same technique used to make the high voices (speeding up the recording – especially successful for The Chipmunks), is also used to produce the tinny sounding saxophone solo at the end.
The song shouts out to current novelty hits of the time, such as The Royal Teens’ “Short Shorts” and The Champs’ “Tequila” (both from 1958). Apparently, the creature is also a fan of Little Richard, as he sings something resembling “Tutti Frutti”(from 1955) about 1:30 in.
According to Wooley, MGM Records initially rejected the song, saying that it was not the type of music with which they wanted to be identified. An acetate of the song reached MGM Records’ New York office. The acetate became popular with the office’s young people. Up to 50 people would listen to the song at lunchtime. The front office noticed, reconsidered their decision, and decided to release the song.
The Sheb Wooley version crossed to the Billboard R&B listings, and while it did not make Billboard’s country chart, it reached #4 on the Cashbox country listing.
Wooley re-recorded the song in 1979 under the title “Purple People Eater” and it was released on the King label.
The song and character were used as the basis for the Disney Channel film in 1988. In Purple People Eater, a young boy plays the song and accidentally summons the creature itself, who then befriends him on an adventure. Neil Patrick Harris plays the boy, who later went on to play Doogie Howser M.D. The cast also includes Ned Beatty, Shelley Winters, Thora Birch, Little Richard, Chubby Checker and Wooley himself.
Deep Purple by Donnie & Marie Osmond – “Deep Purple” was the biggest hit written by pianist Peter DeRose*, who broadcast, 1923 to 1939, with May Singhi as “The Sweethearts of the Air” on the NBC radio network. “Deep Purple” was published in 1933 as a piano composition. The following year, Paul Whiteman had it scored for his suave “big band” orchestra that was “making a lady out of jazz” in Whiteman’s phrase. “Deep Purple” became so popular in sheet music sales that Mitchell Parish added lyrics in 1938.
The second most popular version, which hit number one on the U.S. pop charts (the 100th song to do so) in November 1963 and also won that year’s Grammy Award for Best Rock and Roll Record, was recorded by Nino Tempo & April Stevens (who are brother and sister). It remained in the Top 40 for twelve weeks and was #1 on the Hot 100 the week before John F. Kennedy was assassinated. This version of the song is notable for April Stevens’ speaking the lyrics in a low and sweet voice during the second half of the song while her brother sings. According to the Billboard Book of Number One Hits by Fred Bronson, when the duo first recorded the song as a demo, Tempo forgot the words, and Stevens spoke the lyrics to the song to remind him. The record’s producers thought Stevens’ spoken interludes were “cute” and should be included on the finished product, but according to Stevens, her brother was not as easily convinced: “He didn’t want anyone talking while he was singing!”
Another brother-and-sister team (and the one that is featured in my playlist), Donny and Marie Osmond, revived “Deep Purple” in 1975 and took it into the Top 20 on the U.S. and Canadian pop charts. It peaked at #14 in March 1976 on the Billboard Hot 100, with Marie intoning the balmy lyrics during the break as April Stevens had done in the version with Nino Tempo.
Donny and Marie’s “Deep Purple” was a yet bigger Adult Contemporary hit. It peaked at number eight on both the U.S. and Canadian charts. The song spent 23 weeks on the pop chart, far longer than any other song by the Osmond family. “Deep Purple” is ranked as the 42nd biggest U.S. hit of 1976.
FUN FACT: *The British rock band Deep Purple got their name from Pete DeRose’s hit as it was the favorite song of guitarist Ritchie Blackmore’s grandmother; she would also play the song on piano.
That’s it for the PURPLE edition in my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs series. Are you a purple fan? Do you know what the color purple means? According to Bourn Creative’s Color Meaning Blog Series:
Purple combines the calm stability of blue and the fierce energy of red. The color purple is often associated with royalty, nobility, luxury, power, and ambition. Purple also represents meanings of wealth, extravagance, creativity, wisdom, dignity, grandeur, devotion, peace, pride, mystery, independence, and magic.
The color purple is a rare occurring color in nature and as a result is often seen as having sacred meaning. Lavender, orchid, lilac, and violet flowers are considered delicate and precious.
The color purple has a variety of effects on the mind and body, including uplifting spirits, calming the mind and nerves, enhancing the sacred, creating feelings of spirituality, increasing nurturing tendencies and sensitivity, and encouraging imagination and creativity.
Purple is associated spirituality, the sacred, higher self, passion, third eye, fulfillment, and vitality. Purple helps align oneself with the whole of the universe.
What do you think of the color? What is your favorite purple song? Please let me know in the Comments section. Thanks for coming by today. Stay tuned for the next installment of my Kaleidoscope of Color Songs series in two weeks.
Monday’s Music Moves Me (4M) is a blog hop hosted by X-Mas Dolly, and co-hosted by JAmerican Spice, Stacy Uncorked and Curious as a Cathy. Be sure to stop by the hosts and visit the other participants.