Prince’s Shocking ‘Electric Intercourse’ Finally Sees the Light of Day: 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.
Lightning and rain go together like Prince and Controversy, so perhaps it was a wise move to pull "Electric Intercourse" off the track list of mega-hit Purple Rain.
Had she known about it, the decision would have pleased Tipper Gore, the future second lady of the U.S, who took action after hearing "Darling Nikki" on the stereo of her 11-year old daughter Karenna. Gore went on to form the Parents Music Resource Center (PMRC), an organization whose “Parental Warning: Explicit Content” labeling system made it easy for teens to find every naughty song they desire.
"Electric Intercourse" seems tame by today’s standards, but this was in 1984, three years before George Michael’s "I Want Your Sex" was banned by the BBC and eight years before Madonna’s book Sex enraged or aroused just about everyone.
The song made its debut at Prince and the Revolution’s legendary Aug. 3, 1983 show at First Avenue in Minneapolis, the show that premiered "Let’s Go Crazy" and "Computer Blue," and generated the source recordings for Purple Rain album tracks "Baby I’m a Star," "I Would Die 4 U" and the titular "Purple Rain." The show was believed to be the second DVD in the upcoming expanded deluxe edition of Purple Rain (due June 23 on Warner Bros. Records), but the Prince Estate is now shopping footage of it separately. The studio version of "Electric Intercourse" is included in the set’s bonus disc of vault material; the digital version hit streaming sites and download stores in April as the first single from the reissue.
The lyrics are tame and playful, filled with double entendre comparing sexual friction to electricity. The line, “Cuz baby, U shock my wire / With a sexual electricity extraordinaire,” is debated among fans who think the word “wire” is “wild.” Similar confusion surrounds the line “I feel some kind of sexual current” which some believe is “courage.” The one line everyone can agree on is, “Don't U wanna make love, sweet love, my love?"
Despite dirtier Prince songs released before Purple Rain like "Head" and "Sister" on Dirty Mind, "Jack U Off" and "Do Me Baby" on Controversy, not to mention full-blown audio coitus on "Lady Cab Driver," "Darling Nikki" made the PMRC’s “Filthy Fifteen” alongside Cyndi Lauper ("She Bop") and future Prince collaborator Madonna ("Dress You Up"). Prince also wrote Sheena Easton’s "Sugar Walls" that made the 15, but not Vanity’s "Strap On (Robbie Baby)" which was written by her then-boyfriend Robbie Bruce. Besides the Mary Jane Girls, whose "In My House" was written by Prince rival Rick James, the rest of the list was primarily metal acts ranging from Mercyful Fate and W.A.S.P. to Motley Crue and Judas Priest. Had "Electric Intercourse" been released, it conceivably could have bumped Twisted Sister’s "We’re Not Gonna Take It" from the 15, denying Dee Snider his unforgettable appearance before the Senate.
Looking back on his Days of Wild in 2004, Prince told the Washington Post, “Times were different back then. I wouldn't stand out today if I was brand-new and came like that. But see, back then nobody else was doing that, and I knew that would get me over. I didn't dress like anybody, I didn't look like anybody, I didn't sound like anybody. We still try to do that."
Denise Matthews, who stripped off her Vanity moniker to become a minister, discussed her past life with Rolling Stone in 2015: “I don't listen to my old music of Vanity's unless I have to hear it playing in a mall or something place like that. I sing to Jesus for Jesus now. This gives me pure joy ... worship! I apologize profusely to those I have offended deeply a million times over."
Matthews died on Feb. 15, 2016, a few months before Prince. At one of his final shows in Australia, Prince acknowledged her passing saying, “Someone dear to us has passed away, I’m gonna dedicate this song to her” before playing "Little Red Corvette." Vanity and Prince last appeared together on Prince’s 1994 album Come, with the album-closer "Orgasm." Originally titled "Poem," "Orgasm" was perhaps the most sexually explicit song Prince ever released. The screams of passion in question were likely recorded in 1981.
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