Tributes to His Purpleness

Not surprisingly, the Internet has been awash in comments about the late musician Prince over the past several days. If you’re at all active on social media, you will have seen a lot of them, everything ranging from humorous memes that play off the recent rash of celebrity deaths (“Has anybody checked on Ozzy lately?” and “Every time a musician dies, Keith Richards receives the Quickening“) to heartfelt reminiscences, to just-plain-weird shit. (Evidently, there’s a conspiracy theory taking root that claims Prince faked his own death… no doubt so he could spend more time hanging out in truck stops with MJ, Elvis, and Eddie Wilson, or something. Ooooookay.) I’d like to single out three tributes that I thought were particularly classy.

First up is Bob Staake’s cover art for this week’s issue of The New Yorker magazine, which I found striking in its wordless simplicity:


Then there’s the image that Chevrolet shared on Facebook and Twitter; it also ran as a full-page ad in six major newspapers. Personally, I think this is the best that anyone has done, drawing on Prince’s own words (the lyrics to “Little Red Corvette,” if you don’t get it) and a sexy image of a 1963 Stingray to say everything that really needs to be said on an occasion like this. Notice that this isn’t a promotional ad for the brand. Chevy isn’t cashing in on the man’s passing by pushing a commercial message to buy cars. They’re just acknowledging the connection that existed between an iconic song and their iconic flagship sportscar. It’s understated, tasteful, and poignant, and when I first saw it, it honestly brought a tear to my eye. I really love this:


And finally, a tribute of a different sort, a video clip from Bruce Springsteen’s April 23rd performance at Brooklyn’s Barclays Center, which he opened with a rendition of “Purple Rain.” I’ve always been a casual fan of Bruce’s music, but his in-concert responses to the passing of David Bowie, Glenn Frey, and now Prince has made me a big fan of Springsteen as a human being, too.

One last thought: I think it really speaks to Prince’s talent as a writer that such a well-known, signature song that is so strongly identified with a particular performer — Prince himself — is flexible enough to be performed by a man with such a different musical style and voice, and still work beautifully. A couple days ago, I took one of those silly Facebook quizzes that promised to reveal “Which Prince song was written for you.” My result was “Purple Rain.” I can live with that. For all sorts of reasons.

Incidentally, if you like this rendition of the song, you can download a free MP3 copy of it from Bruce’s official website here. That’s why they call him The Boss…