My first foray in to 1995’s The Gold Experience. I’ve always struggled with mid to late-90’s Prince. Emancipation. Crystal Ball. Chaos and Disorder. Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. The Gold Experience. I have a complicated relationship with them. I can play any one of them and enjoy them. However, none of them reach the incredible highs of his 80’s work. None of them are in my top 10 Prince albums. Well…maybe Emancipation. I’ve never taken the time to actually make a formal list of my ten favorite Prince albums. As I’ve documented on this site before, my Prince obsession didn’t really begin until the early-2000’s. Therefore, I’m more familiar with his post-Musicology stuff because that’s when I became a Prince superfan. I listened to those albums from the day they were released.
So, when I’m playing Prince – which is pretty much all the time – I gravitate toward the 1980’s and 2000’s. There’s a gap from 1992’s Love Symbol album which I rocked in high school until 2004’s Musicology that I’m not as familiar with. The Gold Experience is also an album that I do not own on vinyl, so I’m far less likely to listen to it. All of this is me making excuses for why I’m not as knowledgeable about today’s song, “319,” as I might be about some others. Fuck it. Let’s do this anyway.
“319” is a straightforward rock song with a little bit of funk peppered in because this is Prince we’re talking about. With all of the references to picture-taking and modeling I assume this was (and maybe still is) a popular song on catwalks. This was during Prince’s Versace Experience days and I can imagine Victoria’s Secret models walking out to this song.
The real mystery with this song is what the hell does “319” mean? I figured it was something filthy that Prince cleverly coded with the number 319. I’ve seen a lot of theories online. He wanted to get freaky with a 19-year-old (what’s the 3 for then?). My favorite was a wild theory that the word nineteen in English sounds like something that translates to “to fuck” in Finnish. Again, why the three then? Another theory I saw was that 3:19 was the runtime of the song plus some “NPG Operator” filler that was also included on The Gold Experience. I’m not sure I buy that explanation. You mean to tell me Prince planned ahead of time to make a track 3:19 long and said, “I’m gonna call this song ‘319’ and we’ll just scatter that number throughout the song lyrics for no reason.” Maybe it’s true. I’d like to think there’s more to it than that. My favorite theory – and the one I choose to believe is true – involves a terrible movie: Showgirls. This song was featured in the movie. I refuse to confirm this with my own eyes because I have no interest in watching that movie just to find a halfway decent Prince song. Apparently Gina Gershon’s character in that movie stayed in room 319. The theory is that this song is about Gina Gershon. It’s as believable as anything else I’ve seen. Thanks to the people at prince.org for most of these theories. All I know is that I’ve done way too much internet research on this topic now.
When all is said and done, “319” is a pretty average song on a pretty average Prince album. I’ll give it 2 out of 5 stars.