Episode 23: Uptown

On Episode 23 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, Christy from The Mountains & the Sea and Killer Fun podcasts joins me to talk a little about the physical location but primarily the metaphor of a place where you can be yourself, and everyone can celebrate their differences in “Uptown” from Prince’s 3rd album, Dirty Mind.

“Now where I come from, we don’t let society tell us how it’s supposed to be.”

On Episode 23 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, Christy from The Mountains & the Sea and Killer Fun podcasts joins me to talk a little about the physical location but primarily the metaphor of a place where you can be yourself, and everyone can celebrate their differences in “Uptown” from Prince’s 3rd album, Dirty Mind.

On the first track on Dirty Mind’s side-B, Prince gives us the first clear view of his utopian manifesto/melting pot, “Uptown.” Named after a bohemian neighborhood in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Uptown is not only just an actual physical location but also a mythical place where everyone is accepted, no matter how different they may seem. 

Released as the album’s lead single, “Uptown” was a success on the Hot Soul and Hot Dance singles charts, reaching #5 on both. However, it did not cross-over to the pop charts, and with the notable exception of “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” this would be Prince’s M-O for his first four album’s singles. 

Prince tries to address questions of his sexuality in the opening verse directly by telling a fictional woman who was walking down the Uptown streets that he wasn’t gay (“No, are you?”). The fact that she would jump to such a conclusion simply based on Prince’s clothes and hair choices in 1980 is enough to make him worry that she’s a crazy, mixed-up dame. No worries, Prince is going to teach her a valuable life lesson about being free.

In the second verse, Prince makes it known that Uptown is a melting pot of unique and colorful individuals. He shouts out various races, “White, Black, Puerto Rican; everybody’s just a-freakin’,” which leads us to believe that while racism and classism were definitely things in 1980, that’s not what this place is about.

“Uptown” is filled with memorable lines, an interesting narrative (girl meets boy, girl asks if boy is gay based on his appearance, boy educates girl on why her views are narrow-minded, boy and girl party and have sex), and an enjoyable groove. It’s one of the Prince community’s favorites from this era, and for a good reason. It has all of the elements of a topical and relevant song from a lyrical perspective; it’s not preachy as it’s a story song sung with a lot of humor and sexiness, plus it slaps—early ‘80s Prince at his finest.

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!

Liked it? Take a second to support Jason Breininger on Patreon!

Leave a Reply