Ten years ago today, Prince recorded his Minnesota Vikings anthem ‘Purple and Gold’
by Jay Gabler
January 17, 2020
Although this proved to be yet another disappointing year for the Minnesota Vikings in the playoffs, it's been a pretty good year for the team in pop music, with an unmissable name-drop in Lizzo's chart-topping hit "Truth Hurts." Ten years ago today, the Vikings achieved another music milestone, albeit one that didn't make quite so much of a splash.
A lifelong sports fan, Prince attended the NFC Divisional Playoff at the Metrodome, where the Vikes trounced the Dallas Cowboys 34-3. It was Prince's first Vikings game "in a very long time," he later said. "I saw the future," Prince told FOX 9, which got the premiere of a song Prince wrote and recorded that night at Paisley Park.
The anthem, "Purple and Gold," was not the least bit funky. "We're not really in 1999 territory here," wrote Rolling Stone, sharing the lyrics.
r spirits may b tired
r bodies may b worn
but since this day is r destiny
r history — that's y we must b
4ever strong as the wind that blows the Vikings’ horn
in the name of the purple and gold
Billboard also took 1999 as a point of reference, averring, "it's no 'Little Red Corvette.' It came from the heart, though, and isn't that what counts most?" The industry publication also noted that the Vikings chose their own soundtrack for the decisive victory, with quarterback Brett Favre leading a locker room chant of the chorus to "Pants on the Ground," a novelty number about sagging.
"The Vikings love the new song," reported ESPN. It was streaming on their website for years, but eventually taken down. Today you can find it online, but it's officially out of print, the Star Wars Christmas Special of the Prince catalog.
How did FOX 9 get the premiere? We know Prince watched local news shows: that's how he discovered Lizzo. He was also a friend of Robyne Robinson, who was then a FOX 9 anchor. In a 2017 interview, Robinson remembered Prince calling to tell her that he was going to let her network premiere his new song.
He calls and says, "I'm really psyched by Vikings football, it was amazing, the crowd, the sound, the game. I wrote a song, and I want you to play it." And I am just feeling like the beams of heaven have opened up on me. "Yes, Prince is giving me an original tune to play on the air, we have it first, yes! I am so psyched!" So finally it's the day, he gives us the song, and honestly it was nothing that I expected. And you're expecting this slamming bassline, funk, it's going to be amazing and people are going to be singing this the whole Super Bowl. It's going to be a jam, a massively, funky jam!
I'm so glad people are going to remember Prince for ever and ever and ever, but I really don't want them to remember "The Purple and Gold" because that was not the seminal song for Prince. But you know, he did love sports, he loved this town. He loved everything about it, and so give him an E for effort on that one. He can take an E on that one.
The Vikings' efforts that season came to an end with their next game, an infamously heartbreaking loss against the New Orleans Saints. Prince's longtime collaborator Sheila E., a Saints fan who says a friendly sports rivalry was always part of her bond with Prince, promptly trolled him with a deadpan response video.