Episode 37: Little Red Corvette

On Episode 37 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, fellow blogger Zachary Hoskins (princesongs.org) joins me to chat about one of the most significant songs of Prince’s career, the enduring and flat out phenomenal “Little Red Corvette” from the 1999 album.

“But it was Saturday night, I guess that makes it all right.”

There’s no way you can write a Prince story without mentioning the song that broke him through to pop and rock (read: white) audiences. You can’t tell the story of how a song with a haunting synth hook, masterful use of the Linn-LM1 drum machine, a blazing guitar solo courtesy of Dez Dickerson, and enough hidden sexual innuendo to make it past censors helped create a mega-star in the MTV era without discussing the significance of “Little Red Corvette.” There’s no way you can do it without losing credibility, considering this song’s importance as a major hit (top 10 on the pop charts, #25 on the year-end Billboard charts for 1983). Don’t even try.

In this episode, Zach and I talk at length about not only the song’s lyrics, which of course is the goal of the podcast after all, but also possible inspirations and alternate meanings. We also touch on the purposeful inclusion of Prince’s band in the song, with the strategic use of guitar. It seems likely that this was an intentional move to cross over to a broader audience and the increased radio play beyond traditional black markets was a probable goal. It’s easy to fawn over such an incredible piece of artistic achievement when it sounds as good as “Little Red Corvette.”

“I guess I should’ve known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn’t last.”

That opening line alone is enough to warrant Prince’s inclusion in the songwriter’s hall of fame, where he hasn’t yet earned a place. However, he’s not done with just one standout line. How about this entire verse?

I guess I should’ve closed my eyes

When you drove me to the place where your horses run free

‘Cause I felt a little ill when I saw all the pictures

Of the jockeys that were there before me

All of the imagery invoked with these four simple lines are enough to vault this song to “superior songwriting” status. We spend some time breaking this verse down and marvel over how many ways these lines can be interpreted and still never be ultimately on point with any of them. It’s a long episode, so I hope you give it a listen because I think Zach and I touch on some interesting ideas and theories about the song’s lyrics, inspirations and just geek out on the brilliance within.

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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