Episode 35: Gotta Stop (Messin’ About)

On Episode 35 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, I cover the very first non-album B-side in Prince’s career, “Gotta Stop (Messin’ About).” This was the B-side to the “Let’s Work” 12″ remix and was a non-album A-side in the UK! What’s the song all about though?

“What goes on inside your head, that makes you want to take them all to bed?”

Prince’s very first non-album B-side here in the United States (“Gotta Stop” was released as a stand-alone single in the UK) showed up as a B-side on the “Let’s Work” 12” in 1981. It’s a Dirty Mind era outtake that, for whatever reason, wasn’t earmarked as a B-side for either of that album’s two singles. It didn’t even earn a spot as the B-side to the “Let’s Work” 7”. That honor went to “Ronnie, Talk to Russia.” The fortunate Prince fans that bought the “Let’s Work” 12” were not only treated to an incredible extended remix of that club banger but an entirely new song on top of it. What a deal!

For “Gotta Stop,” Prince is in peak slut-shaming mode. The primary theme of the song is that Prince’s character is upset that a woman he has eyes for has a very active sex life. He stalks her, not unlike the Prince who stalked his ex on “When You Were Mine” to gain a bit of ammunition when he chastises her for being so promiscuous. Is his problem that this woman is sleeping with so many men? Or more accurately, that she’s sleeping with so many men, except for him?

“All I want is a little time. Been playing with my toy so much I’m gonna go blind.”

I’d say the latter because, at one point in the song, Prince complains that he is so sexually frustrated that he needs to masturbate constantly. This line implies that he is not having sex with this woman (or any woman for that matter), and it angers him that she keeps passing him up to be with other men. The song reeks of desperation and frustration. 

Prince’s character’s overly simplistic view of the situation (Hey, if she stops sleeping with other men, surely she’ll start sleeping with me, right?) points to his youth and inexperience when dealing with the complicated notions of physical attraction, sexual freedom, and a woman’s right to say “yes,” or in his case, “no.”

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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