Marketing Musicology
The marriage of commerce and culture


November 20, 2016

Dave Allan presents Prince and the Revelation: Popular Music and Religion

David Allan (Saint Joseph’s University)

Like David Bowie before him, in death we learned more about Prince’s religious beliefs from the lyrics that he left behind. In between he wrote songs with lyrics like “Don’t cry for he is coming, don’t die without knowing the cross” (The Cross), “If God one day struck me blind, your beauty I’ll still see” (“Adore”), “But I’m here to tell you, there’s something else, the after world” (“Let’s Go Crazy”) and “You can be the president, I’d rather be the pope. You can be the side effect, I’d rather be the dope” (“The Pope”). Speaking of the Pope, when Prince died the president of the Pontifical Council for Culture at the Vatican, Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi tweeted “Sometimes, sometimes I wish that life was never ending, All good things they say, never last” (“Sometimes It Snows in April”).
Prince is not the first popular music artist to integrate religion into his lyrics but he may be the most complex and surprising. Everyone who is a fan of the man or the drama surrounding his death knows by now that Prince Rogers Nelson was born a Seventh-day Adventist and died a Jehovah’s Witness. In between he was just a likely to infush religious themes as sexual ones (“Darling Nikki”) into his songs. This article looks at popular music and religion through the purple lenses of Prince.



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