The most interesting ’80s pop “What If?” of the day, for sure. Prince Rogers Nelson has made an entire second career out of penning songs for his female pop peers—Sheila E, Sheena Easton, The Bangles, etc.—but apparently, The Purple One asked for a woman’s touch on what would become one of his own definitive hits, “Purple Rain.” In a story only just unearthed by the UK press, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks apparently told the Minnesota Tribune (who else?) a few weeks back that Prince requested her help writing the lyrics for the song that would become the title track to his most famous album and movie, but Nicks balked. Sez Stevie:
It was so overwhelming, that 10-minute track… I listened to it and I just got scared. I called him back and said, ‘I can’t do it. I wish I could. It’s too much for me’. I’m so glad that I didn’t, because he wrote it, and it became ‘Purple Rain.’”
The connection, Nicks tells the paper, came about due to her admittedly ripping off his 1983 hit “Little Red Corvette” for an ’83 hit of her own, “Stand Back.” “I told him: ‘I’m recording this song and I wrote it to “Little Red Corvette” and I’m giving you 50 percent of it and I want to know if you’d like to come play on it on one of the next three nights,’” says Nicks. “He was there in an hour, and he was there for about an hour and a half. And we became friends.” (Prince ended up playing synths on “Stand Back,” though his work was uncredited.) Their initial collaboration led to Stevie asking Prince if they could work on a song together sometime, which led to Prince sending Stevie a cassette of the “Purple Rain” instrumental.
So how different would the song have been with Nicks doing the lyrics? Well, we’re guessing there would be more references to be one or more of the following: Gypsys, doves, ghosts, drowning, hearts on fire, mountains and shadows. Also, it would probably be named after a girl and it would probably feature the word “neeeeeverrrrr” prominently. We imagine Stevie probably approves of the final lyrics pretty well, anyway, though—girl was always pretty big on the rain and whatnot.