Song Study: How Prince’s Pink Cashmere is Really a Modern Twist on an Old Bible Story
I wrote earlier on this website in the article Prince, Our Unexpected Pastor, that the enigmatic artist always found ways to bring concepts from the Bible into his popular music.
Though most of Prince’s vast catalog is quite Scandalous– pond intended – the musical genius mostly used the shock value of sex to draw his audience to God.
Personally, I believe his 1993 release Pink Cashmere is no different.
Though it is rumored that Prince actually had a pink cashmere coat trimmed in mint and valued at approximately $15,000 designed for one of his girlfriends for her birthday, I believe the song has a deeper meaning. Maybe even the gift itself had a deeper message than just a wildly ostentatious gifting.
Being a longtime listener of Prince’s music, I have learned that none of his music should be taken at face value. Prince was too clever, and far too lyrical to just sing about a very expensive coat he gifted to one of his many girlfriends.
The gesture of the gift, as well as the song itself, intones notes from arguably Prince’s favorite literary text- the Bible.
Pink Cashmere indeed calls to memory the Bible story of Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors.
Joseph and the Coat of Many Colors
In the Biblical book of Genesis, there was a man named Jacob. As a laborer for one of his kinsmen, he fell madly in love with a beautiful woman named Rachel.
He asked Rachel’s father for her hand in marriage and though her father consented, he tricked Jacob and made him marry Rachel’s older sister Leah instead (Gen 29: 21-25).
When Jacob learned of the cruel arrangement, a bit too late, the father promised to give Jacob the bride he longed for if he worked for the man an additional seven years (Gen. 29:16-20).
So Jacob worked seven years for Rachel’s and they finally married. Jacob’s love was such that the seven years of hard labor only felt like a few days to the lovestruck man (Gen. 29:30)
Jacob had another wife (Leah) and two additional mistresses (not his fault, long story), but he loved Rachel more than anyone. Of all the other women Jacob had sexual relations with, Rachel had a very difficult time conceiving a child (Gen 30:1-2).
When she finally did get pregnant and bore Jacob a son in his old age, he was thrilled (Gen. 30: 22-24).
The son’s name was Joseph and after Rachel died a tragic and untimely death, Jacob clung to the child and loved him dearly.
Scripture reports that Jacob loved Joseph more than his other sons, because he was the child born to him in old age (Gen. 37: 3).
Jacob loved Joseph so much that he fashioned the boy a “coat of many colors” and gave it to Joseph (Gen 37:3). During biblical times, dye was very expensive, a pain to work with, and all around an extravagant material usually only utilized by the very wealthy.
Joseph’s coat being many colors insinuated that it was a tedious and expensive clothing item to create, also quite unusual for the time.
Joseph gave the boy this costly and flashy coat to openly display his love for the child who was a product of such extreme adoration and lasting love between husband and wife.
Prince, Pink Cashmere and the Coat of Many Colors
You see where I’m going with this? Prince’s gift of the pink cashmere coat and the song by the same name probably had everything to do with the Coat of Many Colors story from the biblical text.
Also, biblically it is interesting to note that a coat or a robe was thought of as a covering. Gifting a coat was a symbolic gesture to prove that a person was protected and loved by the giver.
In the story of the Prodigal’s Son, after a young boy ran off with his inheritance, spent it all on partying, and came back disgraced. One of the first things his father did to prove that his son was welcomed back home, was offer to his wayward child “the best” robe/coat (Luke 15:22).
Like dye in the bible, cashmere and mink are both expensive and rarely used materials today. I did a quick Google search for cashmere coats and saw nearly nothing under $1,000.
Prince’s gift of the pink cashmere coat was a grand act of love and symbolic covering. The song just farther romanticized the act.
What might be a little odd, even for Prince, is that these acts of coat giving in the Bible were solely done between father and son.
However, if you listen to Prince’s catalog you will learn that he often called his romantic partners child (*cues Adore*) and in his song Friend, Lover, Sister, Mother/Wife from the Emancipation album, he wraps his lover up in all five titles.
To Prince, love is more than just sexual partnership or causal dating, it was a model of relationships even deeper than weak romantic love.
A New Standard?
Prince was quite the poet don’t you think? Also, amazingly romantic. I do believe he might have changed my dating standard.
I’m no longer falling in love unless a Pink Cashmere coat is presented to me (Valentio, cause why not?) Or maybe I’ll settle for a coat of many colors (Target is cool too) .
What are your thoughts? Do you believe Prince’s Pink Cashmere coat is a copy of the Joseph’s Coat of Many Colors or just pure conscience? Comment below and let me know what you think.