The 20th century produced some of the greatest music in living memory. From jazz’s chaotic improvisations to The Beatles’ psychedelic sounds, music became radically reimagined. Yet, in all of life’s facets, one can tell the best from the rest. In this regard, Prince’s “Raspberry Beret” has no competition.
The artist’s musical expression must be appreciated before considering the song itself. Born in Minneapolis on June 7, 1958, Prince became one of the most esteemed artists of his era. Prince composed music early in his life, which later became known as the “Minneapolis sound.” Though known for his funky music, Prince didn’t stop there. He composed and produced the soundtrack for the greatest musical film of all time, “Purple Rain.”
The things that make “Raspberry Beret” the best include a beautifully catchy and funky sound, relatable lyrics only a bleeding heart can create and a timeless message.
A song’s music sets the stage for the story within. Prince’s upbeat and seductive sounds create a sexually retrospective atmosphere. By fusing the keyboard with finger cymbals and drums, the song establishes a groove from the outset. With a balance of repetition and alternation throughout, the song can play forever without losing its flavor.
Prince’s voice immediately takes center stage. In all his music, and within this song, he manages to pierce through the underlying tones while effortlessly flowing lyrics throughout.
His unique sound adds layers of sensuality as he narrates his first sexual encounter. The song begins by reliving his adolescent years working a part-time job that doesn’t interest him. This changes when “she walked in through the out door.” Prince falls for her, and they soon lust after one another. The song ends after he awakes to the door shutting behind his lover, who left behind her raspberry beret and a note reading “this is for you.”
Simply retelling the song cannot capture its beauty. Despite the story being Prince’s, the underlying themes are universal. Feelings of love, passion, a desire for someone special, the revolving cycle of life and a life-changing experience.
Everyone experiences love at some point in their life, and it staying or going doesn’t matter. It’s the experience of baring the soul with another and not running. It’s more than accepting the little rebellions in someone, but appreciating them more for it. The song sets this bar and hits it. The irreplaceable twinge in the heart only the vulnerable can know and never go back from.
By beginning and ending with the opening and closing of a door, Prince establishes a poetic continuation that lives on, saying that life moves fluidly through the universe in constant motion before returning to its origin.
Through his music, Prince sought to awaken the artist in those any who listened, not just creativity and passion, but the freedom to choose their destiny and make it themselves.
“Try to create,” Prince said. “I want to tell people to create. Just start by creating your day. Then create your life.”
This creative brilliance and inspiring message make “Raspberry Beret” the greatest song of the 20th century.