I came across Prince’s music under strange circumstances. I was a teenager living on a small sailboat traveling all around the world with my family. I was often cut off from any people besides my parents for a month at a time. For some that would be a nightmare, but for me it was alright. I was already practicing hard to be a musician and was learning every bass line and every guitar line on the hundreds of CDs that my family had. After I had exhausted every CD, I came across a tape of my brothers that had “Purple Rain” scribbled on it. I tell this story because I had no clue if Prince was “cool”, or if he was popular or anything. I was not aware of the amazing culture he was forging. I was not aware of what the band looked like. All I knew was that this music touched me extremely deeply. It simultaneously touched on everything I love: drama, skill, visceral impact, intense passion and great songwriting. It just had everything. I didn’t have anyone to bounce these feelings off of, no skater friends, no friends in the band room. Just my headphones relentlessly playing this magnificent record, and the strength of his genius.
Years later, my dearest friend Sam Mickens and I were living together and we had a band called The Dead Science. I finally had someone who shared my deep love of Prince, and we went through a phase of watching Purple Rain nearly every day for a good 6 months. Seriously. This culminated in us having The Dead Science double as a Prince tribute band. We did a couple tours where we would play a Dead Science show and then play a party post-show as a Prince tribute band. It was awesome. We were pretty raw. It was just a three piece; Sam mostly rolled around in ecstatic bliss, while I basically tried to play all the melodic parts on bass as loud as I could, and Nick held down as much rhythm as he could. We had some memorable nights.
Years later I found myself in Amanda Palmer's Grand Theft Orchestra. For a New Years Eve show, we wanted to do something fun, and we quickly realized that the one artist/record we could all be completely stoked about covering was Prince/Purple Rain. It was yet another memorable evening. I got to sing my absolute favorite song ever, “The Beautiful Ones,” and as the clock struck zero, we finished Purple Rain with an infinite rain of confetti falling down as I kissed my girlfriend.
I got to see Prince live once. I was at a meeting for a music festival I was working at. I knew that Prince was playing that night but I was extremely broke, living in my van, etc. At the end of the meeting, the people from the festival said: “Hey, anyone want to see Prince? We have some free tickets here.” I ran up, snagged a ticket and ran as fast as I could to the venue. I got to my seat right at the moment that Prince walked out on to the stage. I was experiencing his music once again by myself, but this time in a stadium full of people. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen.
I am so in love with Prince and so sad that he is gone. The Beautiful One.
Amanda and I recently made an EP of David Bowie songs with string quartet and when Prince passed away, we went back and forth about whether we should make something. We knew in our hearts that we wanted to, but it seemed like a bit much, so soon after the Bowie record. But losing Prince was just too much. Losing them both, just too much. Making the Bowie record was so extremely therapeutic for us, and getting deep into those songs really was such an intense and beautiful experience. It was no different working on this. It just gave me an even deeper love of one of the greatest musicians ever to walk this earth.
You can listen to our version of "Purple Rain," with a string quartet arrangement by yours truly and vocals by Amanda here:
This project was funded by Amanda's 8,000 Patreon supporters. You can read all about it on Amanda's blog here.
All proceeds of this download (until further notice) will go to the Elevate Hope Foundation, a non-profit that provides therapy through music for abused and abandoned kids - supported by Prince and Founded by Sheila E. The Elevate Hope Foundation (EHF) is dedicated to providing abused and abandoned children an alternative method of therapy through music and the arts, and funding special services and programs that assist the needs of these children using these fundamental methods. Co-founded in 2001 by entertainer Sheila E. and business manager, Lynn Mabry, EHF supports existing programs of their beneficiaries through monetary funding and in-kind donations e.g. musical instruments, art supplies, and work stations complete with computers, keyboards and applicable instructional software.
Jherek Bischoff: Arrangement, Mixing, Mastering, Production
Amanda Palmer: Vocals
The team @ ELBO studios in LA:
Serena McKinney – Violin
Ben Ullery – Viola
Alma Fernandez – Viola
Jacob Braun – Cello
Chris Fogel – Engineer
John Witt Chapman – Engineer
Ryan McClure – Asst. Engineer
The team @ Future-Past Studio in Hudson, NY:
Patrick Higgins – Head Engineer
Rudy Mingaray – Assistant Engineer
Artwork: Done on commission from the Patreon by Sarah Beetson (http://www.sarahbeetson.com/)