Prince Funks With Domestic Bliss on ‘Let’s Pretend We’re Married': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
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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.
At his best, Prince encapsulated the sacred and profane axes of pop music better than arguably any other artist. On occasion, he was even able to fuse those warring impulses into a single song — as he did, for instance, on “Let’s Pretend We’re Married.”
The fifth and final single from Prince’s 1999 LP, “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” takes a tongue-in-cheek approach to dealing with wanton lust, with the singer asking the object of his affection if she’s “free 4 a couple of hours” and “ain’t busy 4 the next 7 years” so they can make like the title of the song and “go all night.” It’s a proposition echoed throughout the Prince discography, but with a twist — in the final verse, he takes pains to point out that although he’s “in love with God” and aware he’s going to die someday, in the meantime he’s determined to “have fun every motherf—in’ night.”
The central idea — that getting down isn’t really okay until you’ve settled down, but we’re all going to do it anyway — is as universal as it is satisfyingly thorny, and although Prince was far from the first or last artist to channel those urges into slabs of funk, he was still somewhat unique. As brazen as he could be on record, he was close to silent when it came to actually discussing details of his private relationships — and although anyone who only listened to his music might come away convinced he had an indiscriminately torrid sex life, he could also be downright monogamous.
Linked with a slew of women over the course of his life, Prince rarely discussed his affairs. But at least twice, he did more than pretend he was married: between 1996 and 2000, he was wed to his former backup singer and dancer, Mayte Garcia; the year after they split, he married Canadian businesswoman Manuela Testolini, a union that ended amicably in 2006. In both cases, the overall picture of the relationship that emerges is far less debaucherous than Prince’s early music might have left a listener tempted to believe.
In fact, both relationships saw the artist going through a crucible of sometimes painful change. As fans are aware, his marriage to Garcia was shadowed by the death of the couple’s infant son — a tragedy that seemed to shadow not only the rest of their time together, but the rest of Prince’s life.
“I believe a child dying between a couple either makes you stronger or it doesn’t,” Garcia later said. “For me, it was very, very hard to move forward, and for us as a couple, I think it probably broke us.”
While Testolini has declined to discuss many of the personal details of her life with Prince, she’s gone on the record to share his focus on philanthropy during their time together — and has credited his drive for betterment with inspiring her to pursue a life of working for others well beyond the end of their union.
“People would say, ‘I want to do something about this, but this other thing is stopping me,’ and he’d just knock them down,” laughed Testolini years later. “‘That’s not really an obstacle. You can get past that.’ And he would push you to get it done. For me, I’d say, ‘I want to see change in communities,’ and he would pin me down to lay that out: ‘What is it you want to change?'”