Prince Calls for a Revolution Based on ‘Sexuality': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
There was a time in the U.S. when to discuss sexuality—even in academic terms, if such discussions actually occurred—was verboten. Taboo. A big no-no; perhaps the biggest no-no. Real-life wedded TV couples Ricky and Lucy Ricardo slept in separate beds; so did Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Both couples had kids, but those kids were not the results of the congress of sperm and egg—they were left at their parents' doors by a stork. Yes, a stork. If Ricky accidentally gave Lucy a look that said, "Honey, let's push the beds together tonight," the director would yell, "Cut!" and they'd do another take. On the radio, Pat Boone took Little Richard's "Tutti Fruitti"—a filthy song, if you think about it—into the Top 20, by whitewashing lyrics like "Boy, you don't know what she do to me" into "Pretty little Suzy is the gal for me."
Had 1981 Prince—Controversy-era Prince, the one that opened for the Rolling Stones wearing (according to one observer) "thigh high black boots, a long black leather coat, and a black leather g-string"—had the power to time travel to the Ricardo or Nelson households, he would have compelled them to get their freak on, and turned their black-and-white worlds into sexually charged Technicolor, Pleasantville-style. Pat Boone probably would have just fainted.
Prince could have used "Sexuality," Controversy's call-to-arms, as his rallying cry. In its very first moments (after we're bandied about by deep synthesized percussion and a few falsetto "Hoo!"s), he implores us to listen up and follow him to a new world where "U don't need no money / U don't need no clothes" and you can "let your body be free." One can imagine Mrs. Nelson perhaps loosening an extra button on her blouse while no one is looking.
But it's not enough to enjoy the fruits of one's carnality alone—such activity deserves collective action. "I'm talking about a revolution," Prince sings, "we gotta organize." In fact, he winds up chanting "Reproduction of a new breed—Leaders, stand up, organize!" Certainly, such a movement—a revolution, if you will—would benefit from having the Ricardos and Nelsons as its poster families, and Prince would surely have converted them to the cause (while dancing around the still-passed-out Pat Boone). Heck, he probably could've gotten Captain Kangaroo into the act, with this bit about the kiddies:
"Don't let your children watch television until they know how 2 read
Or else all they'll know how 2 do is cuss, fight and breed"
Leave the breeding to the parents, Prince the time traveler would have said, and keep the TV on I Lust After Lucy and The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet … In Bed, the programming of a new revolution. And as soon as the kids can read, let them watch, too.
Alas, what goes around comes around, though; movements die, and die hard. According to the Prince Vault, when Prince performed "Sexuality" during his Las Vegas residency (already a bad sign) in 2006-7, he changed the lyrics to "Spirituality," to reflect his late-in-life religious outlook. Gone were the calls to organize for carnal pleasure, the lack of need for clothing and the reproduction of a new breed. Any thoughts of revolution, such as they were, were over.
Pat Boone probably would have approved of that.