On Episode 89 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, the co-authors of The Rise of Prince: 1978-1988, Alex Hahn & Laura Tiebert, join me to talk about “Sign o’ the Times.” This lead single from the double album of the same name used a ripped from the headlines approach to calling out troubling aspects of our society while also ensuring it stayed quirky enough to be a Prince track. Its sparse production is designed to highlight the song’s lyrics, so let’s dig in!
“Let’s fall in love, get married, have a baby. We’ll call him Nate if it’s a boy.”
Straight from newspaper headlines (AIDS crisis, nuclear war fears, earthquakes in SoCal, gang violence) and on to tape, Prince takes a sort of progressive, sort of conservative approach towards songwriting for this title track to his double album masterpiece, Sign o’ the Times. Alex, Laura, and I offer perspectives on the lyrics presented here, where we think Prince hit the nail on the head, and where we believe there may have been a missed opportunity.
In the episode, we take some time to talk about our first experiences hearing this standout ’80s track, what aspects of the lyrics we feel have stood up as being innovative or, in some cases, possibly a bit short-sighted or uninformed. Overall, we think Prince makes an exciting and fascinating pop song and appreciate his willingness to venture beyond the sexual nature of some of his earlier pop hits.
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!