So one morning last week I’m on my way home after dropping the girls off at St. P’s. I’m flipping through my stored channels on SirriusXM and not having much luck finding something to listen to.
Until I hit channel 8, the 80s station. There, I hear that familiar church organ dirge, followed by some of the most recognizable first words of a song/album in rock history,
Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life…
My hand shot to the volume knob and cranked it up. “Let’s Go Crazy” is a fine way to get the blood pumping on a cold, dreary December morn.
But I realized something as I listened. I never really understood the lyrics to the second half of the chorus. And by understand, I mean I had no idea what Prince was singing.
We all have songs where we have misheard/misunderstood lyrics for years. But to flat out not know what someone is singing for 30 years? When I’ve owned the song on vinyl, cassette, CD, and digital formats? When the song was played every 25 minutes on pop radio for three months, and the video aired every hour on MTV over the same stretch? When the song was featured in the opening scene of one of the iconic movies of the 1980s? When it is performed by one of my favorite all-time artists, on one of my favorite all-time albums?
Seriously, I’ve heard “Let’s Go Crazy” well over 1,000 times, I bet. And somehow I was never able to decipher what Prince was singing after:
Let’s go crazy
Let’s get nuts…
So when I got home I raced to the Google, typed in the song title, and went to the first lyrics site that popped up. And now, after 30 years of mumbling along with the next two lines, I know to sing:
Look for the purple banana
’Til they put us in the truck, let’s go
I’m not sure that was worth the wait.
In addition, I had no idea what he was singing in the final verse, right after this part:
Dr. Everything Gonna Be Alright
Will make everything go wrong
Turns out, it was another perfectly reasonable lyric I should have grasped as a 13-year-old.
Pills and thrills and daffodils will kill
Hang tough children
How did I never figure out what Prince was saying? I have three defenses.
First, Prince doesn’t exactly offer those words up clearly. In the purple banana part, he kind of stutters and adds a delay, so they blend in with the music a bit. And in the pills and thrills section, he kind of Elvises it up.
Second, the first cassette copy I owned of Purple Rain was from the Columbia House record club. Which, many of you may recall, often did not pay to license the lyrics to the albums they sold. So while your friends who went to Musicland or Sam Goody to buy their music got the long, fold-out inserts with full lyrics and liner notes, those of us who relied on Columbia House got a short cover with the album art on one side, and blank paper on the other.
Finally, purple banana? Seriously?!?! How am I supposed to guess that phrase when trying to figure out what he was saying? It was easier to just fake it.
Anyway, now I know. So one 30 year mystery has been solved. And people say I don’t do much during the day!