Some songs are so intrinsically linked to their creator that anyone providing a cover comes off looking bad. One such song is Prince’s anthemic moment of meta-realisation, ‘Purple Rain’. It’s a track that has been so closely linked to everything the ‘Purple One’ was and continues to be for many of his fans that any attempt to cover the song has felt, at best, a little mawkish. However, there may be one exception to the rule.
Bruce Springsteen is an artist who wears his heart on his sleeve. Unlike some of his contemporaries, Springsteen has never been afraid to pay tribute to the artists who both came before and after his arrival on the music scene. A noted super-fan of Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley, Springsteen also spoke freely of his love for The Clash, among many other notable rock acts that followed. It would seem he would also class Prince Rogers Nelson in that same category.
It’s been five years since the tragic loss of Prince in 2016. The enigmatic star was so widely adored and so ready to continue to make swashbuckling music that swaggered with confidence and shimmied with guile that his death rocked the world a little harder than most would have anticipated. One man who was particularly taken aback by the loss was Bruce Springsteen who used a later performance to pay tribute to the musical icon.
The opportunity arose when Springsteen took to the stage in Brooklyn and, bathed in the glow of purple lighting, used the start of his show to pay tribute to Prince. A lot of people have tried to cover Prince their time and most fail spectacularly. That’s because Prince is such a unique and talented voice that it is hard to replicate his style. Perhaps knowing this impossibility, Springsteen instead turns the song into his own version of the track, a real homage to the artist who created it.
Springsteen, speaking in 2016 to Rolling Stone said of the singer’s passing: “It was a terrible shame. It was a great loss and a tragedy. I felt a great kinship with Prince. And he was a guy, when I’d go to see him, I’d say, ‘Oh, man, OK, back to the drawing board.’
There was a film of him on the Arsenio Hall show, where he plays a series of songs in a row. It’s just some of the greatest showmanship I’ve ever seen. And he knew everything. He knew all about it, and then could put it to work.”
There aren’t many artists who can make Springsteen feel completely in awe of their talent, especially when considering how dominant Springsteen has been as a performer, but such was the power of Prince. Below, watch Bruce Springsteen pay tribute to the singer with a wondrous cover of his song ‘Purple Rain’ from back in 2016.