Episode 19: Dirty Mind

On Episode 19 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, I kick off discussing Prince’s 3rd album with the title track “Dirty Mind.” I also attempt to explain why this was my favorite Prince album of the 90s (and yes, I know it was released in 1980).

“It doesn’t matter where we are. It doesn’t matter who’s around.”

Prince embarks on his journey of sexual liberation with the throbbing electro-funk of “Dirty Mind.” He mostly stayed within the Dance and R&B lanes for his first two albums, covering topics like love, heartbreak, and sexuality through the lens of a relationship. This song marks a tonal shift. An ideology, if you will. 

Prince isn’t looking for love. He isn’t looking to woo. Prince wants to fuck. The song’s lyrics tell us as much, while the thumping, hypnotic synth, and drum beat mimics a heartbeat or even the rhythmic thumping sounds of two people having sex if you have a dirty mind.

Romantic sentiments from past songs have been removed or crystallized and focused on one thing and one thing only. He’s telling us he has a dirty mind, so what are you expecting him to sing about? Butterfly kisses and hand-holding? “I only want to lay you down.”

“In my daddy’s car, it’s you I really wanna drive.” I love this line for some unclear reason. I think he’s implying that he needs to borrow his dad’s car to take his girlfriend on a date, which I find amusing. I also like the implication that he wants to defile his dad’s precious car as an act of rebellion. Maybe there’s a perverted thrill of screwing in the car that his dad will be driving to work the next day? Whatever the motivation, I’m here for it.

Prince also doesn’t care if you think he’s attractive (“I may not be your style”). If you’ve only heard Prince’s first two albums, you’re not expecting him to rag on his appearance or act like a sleazeball. Warner Bros was positioning him as a teen heartthrob with the first two records, but teen heartthrobs don’t suggest that they are on the verge of soliciting a prostitute for sex (“If you got the time, I’ll give you some money”). He’s only going to buy her a dirty mind, so it’s not problematic, but it certainly is shocking.

In whatever form he’s referring to in this song, Monogamy is still essential to Prince (“I’d never fool around”). This is good news if you believe in safer sex and want to trust your dirty-minded partner. He’s still all about commitment, which may not match the same level of commitment he was singing about in “Baby” or “With You,” but a form of devotion that only covers aspects of sex, instead.

Prince’s carnal desires and needs are on desperate display in this second single from the album. Not surprisingly, it wasn’t a hit. It didn’t crack the Billboard pop charts and only hit #65 on the Hot Soul charts. It did make a dent on the Dance charts (#5), which makes sense based on its sound. However, this song’s live versions performed on the Dirty Mind tour turn it more into a punk-funk track. Exciting, raw, and totally unique.

Disco Prince is dead. Long live the new wave punk-funk. “I don’t want to hurt you, baby. I only want to lay you…down.”

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 along with any guest I may have
  • If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics

Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!

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