On Episode 28 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, Erica Thompson (APurpleDayInDecember.com) & I dig deep into hidden (and not so hidden) meanings and discuss Prince’s call to action for the Controversy track, “Sexuality.”
“Reproduction of a new breed, leaders, stand up, organize”
Hey, it’s a Prince song from the early ‘80s called “Sexuality!” I bet I know what this is going to be about, right? Not so fast. If you think you know what “Sexuality” is about, you may be surprised by the breakdown that Erica Thompson (APurpleDayInDecember.com) and I embark on with this episode.
After the red-herring of Prince’s orgasmic screams that kick the album off, we get a great rhythm guitar track and a synth line that follows throughout our lyrical journey. Prince is making a much broader statement with this song, way beyond the shocking sexuality present on Dirty Mind. Way beyond simply trying to tell his listeners that we should “let your body be free.” He attempts to show us how to do that and what pitfalls we might face on our path.
Long before Prince would change the title and lyrics of this song to “Spirituality,” he explained to us how he could lead us to enlightenment through sexual liberation. Prince as the sexual pied piper, the Circus emcee, or even a minister in a freaky congregation who trying to keep his flock on the righteous path.
“I’m ok as long as you are here with me.”
It feels to me that Prince is not necessarily addressing this song to anyone specific, in spite of this line’s use of the word “you.” I get the impression this is referring to the greater You, i.e., all of us. As long as we join him on this journey, he’ll be ok. I think that can be applied to a lot of circumstances where we may feel like we’re alone and the only ones that think a certain way. Prince is here to tell us that’s not true.
In the episode, Erica and I also touch on our thoughts regarding the popular line, “reproduction of the new breed, leaders, stand up, organize.” We see it as a call to arms where Prince is trying to shake us up a bit. We are members of Bold Generation that Prince would write a song about in another year, after-all. Put down your old ways of thinking, because they ain’t workin’!
Prince also double downs on the quotable lines in the spoken word section of the song. Check it out.
- We live in a world overrun by tourists. Tourists, eighty-nine flowers on their back.
- Inventors of the Accu-jack
- They look at life through a pocket camera, what? No flash again?
- They’re all a bunch of double drags who teach their kids that love is bad
- Half of the staff of their brain is on vacation
- Don’t let your children watch television until they know how to read. Or else all they’ll know how to do is cuss, fight and breed.
- No child is bad from the beginning, they only imitate their atmosphere
- If they’re in the company of tourists, alcohol and U.S. history
- What’s to be expected is three minus three, oh, absolutely nothing
Each of these lines could be used as a t-shirt idea, a biography about Prince’s early career, or a funny meme. While these lines are seemingly amusing on the surface, their prescient nature still allows them to apply to life in the 21st century. Frightening in some ways-not learning from our mistakes. Comforting in others-we’ve been dealing with the same issues for 40 years. This is not really an unprecedented time after all.
Like a true new breed leader, Prince closes the song out by telling us that “Sexuality is all I’ll ever need. Sexuality, I’m going to let my body be free.” Listen to the song. Listen to the man. It’s the second coming. Anything goes.
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!