Roots rocker Lydia Loveless may mix equal parts punk venom and heartland gumption in her music, but she says Prince inspired her rebellious, song-driven nature. In 2015, she paid tribute to the Purple One with a reverent cover version of “I Would Die 4 U” as part of Record Store Day — released, naturally, on purple 7-inch vinyl, with Cory Branan’s interpretation of Prince’s “Under the Cherry Moon” on the B side.
“Covering Prince in the studio was probably the most devastating recording experience of my life, and that’s not melodrama,” Loveless tells Rolling Stone Country, shortly after she heard of Prince’s death. “We used to cover a few of his songs live and it was fun and energizing, but when you’re trying to create magic that he has already done such a grand job of, it’s just crushing. I cried for three days after that because I felt so defeated! How do you capture what he put into those songs? I remember as a kid slowly discovering he’d written all these amazing songs, songs he just gave away to other people. How do you write that consistently well and then share those songs with other people and not keep them to yourself? I’m just heartbroken.”
Listen to Loveless’ version of “I Would Die 4 U,” off Prince’s 1984 masterpiece Purple Rain, above. She replaces the original’s layered synth structure with a raw guitar-driven rock feel, but the guitars drip with dramatic Eighties passion as Loveless channels her desperate inner diva.