On Episode 39 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, Erica Thompson (APurpleDayInDecember.com) joins me to break down the at times equally traditional, profane & religious (?!?!) “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” off Prince’s 1999 album. I also bring back Jerry Bonner to share a story about how he was blown away by the utterly shocking use of the “F” word to describe sex & how he decided to share this revelation with schoolmates.
“Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night. There ain’t nothin’ wrong if it feels all right.”
“Let’s Pretend We’re Married” is a fascinating song from a lyrical perspective. Prince plays on the traditionally conservative trope that sex between a man and a woman should be saved for marriage by proposing that he and his potential sex partner pretend to be married so they can still do it without the guilt. It’s brilliant in its playful yet subversive approach to songwriting while also being fun and cheeky.
My co-host for this episode, Erica Thompson (jokingly), calls me out for proclaiming that Prince’s assertions that “doing it all night” is both achievable & desirable. Still, more importantly, she helps me parse through the ideas that Prince is communicating here and how it marries up (pun intended) with the confusing and jarring lyrical codas.
Speaking of codas, I invited another friend of the podcast and frequent co-host, Jerry Bonner, to relate an adolescent experience of playing “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” for party guests and the mixed responses he received thanks to the explicit language (“I sincerely want to fuck the taste out of your mouth”).
The song stays relatively PG throughout its entire runtime, which was essential for it to be selected as the fourth and final single from the 1999 album here in the U.S. However, the two distinct lyrical codas in the song, first the explicit declarations of wanting to fuck so bad it hurts, and second, the proclamation that Prince is in love with God and he’s headed for another life after this one comes to an end, are strictly R-rated.
A couple of corrections are needed for this episode as well. At one point, Erica asks me if this was Prince’s most explicit song up to this point in his career, from a language usage point of view, and I attempted to recall previous instances where Prince dropped an F-bomb. I cited “Sister” from Dirty Mind but failed to mention “Partyup” (“fighting war is such a fucking bore”). I also misspoke when I said Prince made an appearance on Sesame Street to sing “Starfish & Coffee,” when instead, it was an appearance on “Muppets Tonight.” I plead for forgiveness for my mistakes.
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!