A Purple Odyssey

Prince, Montreux Jazz Festival 2013, FFJM 2013 © Marc Ducrest

“Prince, Montreux Jazz Festival 2013” by Marc Ducrest (2013)

I’ve always been a huge Prince fan, and when he passed away recently I was absolutely devastated.  Obviously, I didn’t know the man, but the way his music connected with me on so many levels, it almost felt like I knew him personally.  Anyway, I wanted to write something as a tribute to Prince, his life, his music and all that he meant to me.  So here is a short story I wrote on the 10th May 2016.  Rest in peace, sweet Prince.

A Purple Odyssey

Prince was a bad ass musical genius who lived with his guitars and his little pet starfish Morris Day in a sprawling complex called Paisley Park in Minnesota. One day, Prince bust out a guitar solo so epic that it spawned a giant purple tornado and both he and Morris Day were caught up in it. After whirling around inside it for several hours during which Prince recorded a new album, the tornado eventually deposited them in Funk Country in the magical and mystical land of Purpleonia.

After falling through the air, the recording studio-come-house landed with a mighty crash on top of the Warner Bros. Witch of the East, the evil ruler of the Funkins. She was killed instantly. Prince was so distraught that he wrote a song about it. He recorded and distributed it free of charge amongst the strange people who were gathering around to see what had happened. The Good Free Music Distribution Witch of the North soon arrived to calm the Funkins down, who were by now beginning to get hysterical upon meeting someone quite so awesome as Prince. The good witch told Prince that he could just call her Wendy, because Good Free Music Distribution Witch of the North was quite a mouthful. Prince took her into Paisley Park and recorded an album with her. Afterwards, she gave him the magical Silver Platform Shoes that once belonged to the evil witch who now lay in a puddle beneath Paisley Park. Wendy told Prince that the only way he could return home to Minnesota was to go to the Purple City and ask the great and powerful Wizard of Purpleonia to help him. As Prince embarked upon his journey, Wendy kissed him on the forehead, giving him magical protection from harm and lawsuits.

On his way down the purple brick road, Prince attended a banquet held by a Funkin man named The Artist Formerly Known As Joey Coco. They became good friends and quickly released an album together. The next day, Prince freed a talking lobster from the rock pool in which it was trapped. They released an album together too. Next, Prince applied a life-inducing guitar solo to the rusted connections of a forest-dwelling Amp Man. They became good friends as well and released an album together which charted in the Purpleonia top ten. Finally, Prince met a cowardly hipster in a lion onesie. Prince did not get along with the hipster. Even so, they recorded and released an album together (though Prince used the pseudonym Alexander Nevermind in its credits).

The rag tag gang of musically inclined friends soon discovered that they would make a great supergroup and so they promptly recorded a triple album box set together which went quadruple platinum in under an hour. During the record release party, Prince learned that his new buddies all had seriously upsetting voids in their lives. The lobster wanted a copy of Prince’s new album, but it wasn’t easily obtainable because Prince had only released it via his online fan club of which the lobster was not a member on account of there being no internet in Purpleonia because it’s considered “not a big deal”. The Amp Man wanted a family of sub woofers to call his own, but being sterile had made that all but impossible. And the cowardly hipster in the lion onesie wanted enough courage to give Prince a bad review in order to get a job with a terrible music magazine which shall remain nameless. Prince, in his infinite kindness, encouraged them to journey with him and Morris Day to the Purple City to ask for help from the Wizard. Except for the hipster of course, whom Prince pushed into a stream and was never heard from again. Prince even wrote a song about the incident. It became a number one hit.

After several adventures, each more fabulous than the last and each featuring an accompanying soundtrack album recorded on the fly by Prince himself, the travellers entered the gleaming gates of the Purple City and met the New Power Generation, who were the appointed guardians of the gates. The NPG asked them to wear purple tinted spectacles to keep their eyes from being blinded by the city’s brilliance. Each friend was then called in to see the Wizard. Prince saw the Wizard as a giant purple guitar on a marble throne, the lobster saw him as a lovely prawn in a purple silk gown and the Amp Man saw a Guitar World technician with a purple afro. The Wizard agreed to help them all if they successfully sued the Wicked Record Company Executive of the West. She ruled over Purpleonia’s artist’s community in the oppressed Controversy Country and the Wizard couldn’t stand it. The New Power Generation took the friends to the side and warned them that no one had ever managed to sue the evil record exec before and live to tell about it.

The Wicked Record Company Executive of the West saw the travellers approaching through her all-seeing crystal ball. Being the epitome of evil, she sent a pack of bloodthirsty lawyers with cease and desist orders to tear them to pieces. But they were thwarted when the Amp Man killed them all with a searing hot guitar solo previously taught to him by Prince. She then sent a horde of wild drug addicts to steal their musical instruments, but the lobster stopped them by giving them all complimentary copies of Prince’s greatest hits album, which cleansed their minds and souls and replaced their crippling addition with an insatiable lust for fantastic music. Growing increasingly angry, the evil executive next summoned a swarm of music journalists who used to work with the missing hipster to go and write abysmal reviews about the group’s latest releases. But they all gave up trying because Prince is a machine and they couldn’t keep up with the amount of records he was releasing. Plus, the albums were undeniably great and the journalists couldn’t bring themselves to lie about them. Exasperated, the irate woman sent her Controversy soldiers to attack the friends with bricks torn from the purple brick road, but Morris Day stood firm and tore them new ones with the mad guitar skills he’d gained simply by standing next to Prince for long enough.

Finally, the evil exec used the power of the Golden Recording Contract to send her enslaved winged pygmies to capture Prince and Morris Day, de-shell the lobster and tear out the circuitry of the Amp Man. Prince was forced to become the Wicked Record Company Executive’s personal slave, which he absolutely could not stand and showed his feelings on the matter by writing “slave” on his cheek and changing his name to an unpronounceable symbol. Meanwhile, the record exec schemed to steal all of Prince’s musical master copies so she could live off the royalties.

As Prince toiled away in the evil woman’s castle, the Wicked Record Company Executive of the West managed to successfully trick him out of one of his hit records; Purple Rain. Angered, Prince threw a bucket of cream at her and was shocked to see the evil executive melt away into a puddle of screaming ooze. Prince quickly converted the broom he had been brushing the staircase with into a guitar, wrote, recorded and mixed a song about it which soared to the top of the Purpleonia R&B charts.

Upon hearing the song on the radio, the local artist community rejoiced at finally discovering that they had been freed of the greedy executive’s tyranny. They all flocked to the vanquished executive’s castle and helped re-shell the lobster and mend the Amp Man. They asked the Amp Man to become the head of their artist’s guild, which he agreed to do after helping Prince return to Minnesota. Prince found the Golden Recording Contract and used it to summon the winged pygmies, which he provided with freshly knitted raspberry berets to wear. In gratitude for their fashionable new headgear, the pygmies agreed to carry Prince and his companions along with their musical equipment and stage props back to the Purple City. The High Chief of the winged pygmies told how he and the other pygmies were bound by an enchantment to the Golden Recording Contract by the sorceress Apollonia from the North, and that Prince may use the contract to summon the winged pygmies two more times.

When Prince and his friends met the Wizard of Purpleonia once again, Morris Day accidentally tipped over a large purple sheet in a corner of the throne room and revealed the Wizard in his true form. He was no giant purple guitar, nor was he a gown-wearing prawn or even a Guitar World technician for that matter. The Wizard was simply a little old man wearing a poet shirt and huge earrings. He sadly explained that he was a virgin—an ordinary old man who, not having the skill or sex appeal of Prince, decided to hop in a hot air balloon and see where it took him. He’d wound up in Purpleonia long ago from a far off place called Minneapolis. Prince had heard of Minneapolis. It was where he used to cycle to pick up groceries.

The Wizard, true to his word, helped the friends for liberating Purpleonia of the Wicked Record Company Executive of the West and her sordid ways. He provided the lobster with a gift certificate for Prince’s new album and gave the Amp Man three brand new boxed sub woofers to call his own. The Wizard decided to take Prince and Morris Day home to Minnesota in his magical hot air balloon and leave the Purple City. Much rejoicing was had, and several new albums were recorded.

At the great send-off, where Prince performed an entire concert which was immediately released on both double live LP and DVD, the Wizard appointed the lobster to rule in his stead, which he agreed to do after Prince returned to Minnesota. Morris Day, being a playful little starfish, chased a cute little kitten in the crowd and Prince went after him, but the tethers of the balloon broke and the Wizard floated away, leaving them both behind.

Undaunted, Prince summoned the raspberry beret wearing winged pygmies to carry him and Morris Day home, but they explained that they could not cross the great desert of diamonds and pearls surrounding Purpleonia because their intense shine would make them delirious and they would fall out of the sky to their deaths. Prince took some aspects of this excuse and turned them into radio-friendly hit singles. When Prince had finished, the High Chief of the pygmies informed him that Wendy, the Good Free Music Distribution Witch of the North, may be able to help him return home, and so the friends set out on their journey to see her.

Asking people as they went, they learned that Wendy lived in a duplex in Purpleonia’s Lovesexy Country. On their way, Prince recorded seven new albums and released them as a limited edition box set. At one point, the group of friends entered a dense forest wherein Prince scared off a giant camel that had been terrorising the other animals who lived there. The grateful animals asked Prince for an autograph and to become their king, but the man politely declined, insisting that he wouldn’t have time to dedicate his life to funky music otherwise. Instead, he used his guitar to bust out a searing solo so funky that it turned a nearby tree into a purple dragon and it became their protector instead. Prince recorded a song with the dragon and left.

A few miles later, feeling suddenly creative once again, Prince summoned the winged pygmies a third time so that they could get together and record a new album. It reached number one on the Purpleonia modern rock charts and won several industry awards. The pygmies and Prince then flew over to a nearby mountain to record the follow up because it had the kind of acoustics that Prince was looking for. It also happened to be the mountain where the Good Free Music Distribution Witch’s duplex was located. Wendy greeted the travellers and immediately recorded a four track EP with them as well as an accompanying music video recorded in 3D.

After performing a seven hour concert on top of the mountain, and after the subsequent after-party which was described by all those present as “orgasmic”, Wendy later revealed to Prince that the Silver Platform Shoes he wore could take him anywhere he wished to go. Understandably, Prince was somewhat upset that Wendy hadn’t told him this when he’d first arrived in Purpleonia. His anger produced perhaps his best hard rock album in years. Still, being that it was the product of a negative emotion, Prince decided to shelve it and it never saw the light of day. He quickly cheered up however, after recording a new single about his experiences in the uptown district of the Purple City.

Finally with a way to return home to Minnesota, Prince embraced his much loved friends one last time. They would all be returned to their new homes through Wendy’s three uses of the Golden Recording Contract: the lobster to the Purple City, the Amp Man to the artist’s community in Controversy Country, and the final to be used by Wendy herself to travel to the Purple City to open a museum dedicated to Prince and his adventures in Purpleonia. Afterwards, the Golden Recording Contract would be given to the High Chief of the raspberry beret wearing winged pygmies, freeing them from their magical binds.

Prince took his little starfish friend, Morris Day, in his arms and during the embrace they recorded a contemporary jazz duet album. Waving goodbye to his friends, Prince knocked his heels together three times, and made a wish to return home. Instantly, he began whirling through the air in a fantastical purple vortex and was soon rolling through the grass of the Minnesota countryside, right up to his Paisley Park studio’s front door.

Prince and Morris Day ran straight to his secret underground vault, embracing all his unreleased records and projects, saying “I’m so glad to be home again!” Then Prince had an idea, a brand new concept album based on his adventures in Purpleonia. A smile spread across his face as he picked up his most beloved guitar and started to strum. “That’s it”.

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