On Episode 11 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, I welcome guest host Jerry Bonner to help me discuss another one of Prince’s best known songs from the 70s, “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”
“I play the fool when we’re together, but I cry when we’re apart.”
For the first time on my podcast, I have invited a co-host, Jerry Bonner, to join me to talk about “Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?”, the raucous, rockin’ second single from the Prince album. Jerry gives us some history on his relationship to Prince’s music as a youth hearing “Little Red Corvette” on the radio before getting into the song’s lyrics’ dissection.
Despite not charting on the Pop charts, the song did well on the R&B charts, peaking at #13. One can probably point towards Prince’s massive success on the R&B (and Pop) charts with his last single, “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” possibly launching this single as high as it went, despite it being a rock song through and through.
Lyrically speaking, Prince mines familiar territory by singing about a woman who is not treating him well, basically treating him like dirt. This is Prince’s protest song towards this treatment, but it comes across more like a plea to stop dragging him around town behind his back.
What Prince needs to figure out in this song, is if he’s truly THE ONE or if he’s just the one for now. Our take on this topic is if Prince isn’t THE ONE, it won’t matter how much of his time and body he gives her; it won’t make any difference. She’ll still dump him in the end and treat him poorly while they’re together.
Jerry mentions that during some performances of this song while on tour in the early ‘80s, Prince would even yell out “bitch.” Take a listen for yourself at the 3:58 mark.
Jerry and I implore Prince to move on from this abusive relationship. Still, he’s singing from the perspective of a young, inexperienced man that might have his insecurities about his performance in bed (“you used to say I was the best you’d ever had”) or as a boyfriend in general. If he doesn’t make a change, he’ll be lamenting how she continues to walk all over him, even taking his money and cars before singing about it on “Irresistible Bitch” a few years later.
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!