Hard 2 believe it’s been an entire year since we lost Prince at the far-too-young age of 57. I’ll never forget that day, April 21, 2016. I was at work in Central Maine, and one of my co-workers said that Prince had died. I told him that wasn’t funny. We had already lost so many great musical talents by April 2016. It was truly a year of losses like no other, right until the end of the year.
On April 21, 2016, after work, I was heading down 2 the Portland area (the Westbrook Performing Arts Center, 2 be exact), 2 see Men At Work alum Colin Hay perform a solo acoustic show. That day, I actually didn’t have many Prince songs on my iPod, so between Men At Work and Colin Hay tunes on my iPod, I channel-surfed the radio on the way 2 the show 2 see if they were paying tribute 2 Prince. They were. And Colin Hay himself played a little bit of “Little Red Corvette,” and called it a “weird day.” It certainly was that.
1985’s “Raspberry Beret” is far and away not my favorite Prince song (and maybe not even in my Top 20, though I do love it), but one year ago when I learned Prince had died, I heard this song on the radio more than any other Prince song. And I’ll never forget that.
Released on April 22, 1985, hot on the heels of the still incredibly popular PURPLE RAIN, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY took Prince and his band, The Revolution, on a more psychedelic than commercial musical journey than with PURPLE RAIN or previous efforts, garnering comparisons 2 The Beatles’ SGT. PEPPER’S LONELY HEARTS CLUB BAND, in both sound and the album’s cover artwork.
In the September 12, 1985 edition of ROLLING STONE, Prince disagreed with the Beatles comparison: “The influence wasn’t the Beatles. They were great 4 what they did, but I don’t know how that would hang 2day. The cover art came about because I thought people were tired of looking at me. Who wants another picture of him? I would only want so many pictures of my woman, then I would want the real thing. What would be a little more happening than just another picture would be if there was some way I could materialize in people’s cribs when they play the record. I don’t mind [the album being called psychedelic], because that was the only period in recent history that delivered songs and colors. Led Zeppelin, for example, would make U feel differently on each song.”
“Raspberry Beret,” the first American single from the No. 1 album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY (“Paisley Park” was released as the first single in Europe and other parts of the globe) incorporated strings and Middle Eastern finger cymbals (and a harmonica on the 12-inch remix), and was released in mid-May 1985, three weeks after the album’s release, and it only took three days 2 debut inside the Top 40 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, rocketing in at No. 37.
By early July 1985, “Raspberry Beret” seemed like it would B Prince’s third No. 1 song in America, but Duran Duran’s “A View To A Kill” had other plans. “Raspberry Beret” spent a week at No. 2 one week after LIVE AID, and was one of the biggest U.S. singles of 1985. It would also reach No. 3 on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart and No. 4 on BILLBOARD’s Dance chart.
Around the world in more than a day, “Raspberry Beret” was not one of Prince’s biggest international singles, but it did reach No. 2 in New Zealand, No. 8 in Canada, No. 13 in Australia, and the Top 30 in the U.K., Belgium, Holland and Ireland.
An edited version of the remix can be found in the video 4 the song, which won an MTV Video Music Award (his first) 4 Best Choreography In A Video. If U R a fan of the TV show, CHEERS (like yours truly), U will notice the young girl who hands Prince his guitar in the first part of the video (which I couldn’t obtain) is Jackie Swanson, who played Woody Harrelson’s love interest in CHEERS, Kelly Gaines. Jackie Swanson and Prince were friends, and the “Raspberry Beret” video was her professional debut.
In October 1990, the late, great Warren Zevon recruited Bill Berry, Peter Buck and Mike Mills of R.E.M. 2 record an album of covers, and “Raspberry Beret” was one of them. The only single released from the album, it reached No. 23 on BILLBOARD’s Modern Rock chart.
Though there wasn’t a lot of press or promotion 4 the album, AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY still managed 2 reach Double-Platinum status here in the U.S., and two singles from the album reached the BILLBOARD Hot 100’s Top 10 – “Raspberry Beret,” and the wonderful “Pop Life,” which reached No. 7 in September 1985.
Of the album’s mixed reception, Prince also said in that 1985 ROLLING STONE interview, “I talked 2 George Clinton, a man who knows and has done so much 4 funk. George told me how much he liked AROUND THE WORLD IN A DAY. U know how much more his words mean than those from some mamma-jamma wearing glasses and an alligator shirt behind a typewriter?
“I’ve heard some people say I’m not talking about anything on this record. And what a lot of other people get wrong about the record is that I’m not trying 2 B this great visionary wizard. Paisley Park is in everybody’s heart. It’s not just something that I have the keys 2. I was trying 2 say something about looking inside oneself 2 find perfection. Perfection is in everyone. Nobody’s perfect, but they can B. We may never reach that, but it’s better 2 strive than not.”
A year after Prince left this world 4 another, those words still ring so true 2day. “Raspberry Beret” isn’t my favorite Prince song, but it’s the one I’ll listen 2 first on every April 21, because it’s the one Prince song I heard more on that day than any other.
I miss U Prince, wherever U R. Peace and Love 2 U and then some…