“Play in the Sunshine” might not be my favorite Prince song, but it sure seems appropriate right now. Let me take a moment to tell you all about Wisconsin for a second. Does it get cold here? Hell yes it does. It takes a special kind of person to enjoy January and February here. Here’s something most people don’t know: It’s not always the frozen tundra. It’s been 90 degrees, humid, and sunny here for over a week and there doesn’t seem to be any end in sight. We get both ends of the spectrum here. I feel like it’s relevant since Prince grew up only a few hours west of here. He may have said that Minneapolis is so cold that it keeps the bad people out, but for a few months in the summer, that is not the case.
So, what better song to write about than “Play in the Sunshine” after a day on a Lake Michigan beach with my kids? “Play in the Sunshine” is the second track on Prince’s brilliant 1987 album Sign ‘O’ the Times. After the title track starts the album on an ominous note, “Play in the Sunshine” plays and injects with you the exact kind of energy you’d expect out of a song with that title. The song itself is like a ray of sunshine. High energy, upbeat, and positive. Just look at these lyrics:
We gonna play in the sunshine
We’re gonna get over
I’m feelin’ kind of lucky tonight
I’m gonna find my four leaf clover
Before my life is done
Some way, somehow, I’m gonna have fun
If you’ve never seen the Sign ‘O’ the Times concert movie what’s your problem? Find it now and watch it. I like the performance of “Play in the Sunshine” in the movie more than the album version. Check it out below:
Prince and his band take a song that was already high energy and they crank up the tempo so fast that a 5:00 song takes about 3:30. Sheila E’s drum performance is particularly impressive. That song had to be a workout for her, or any drummer, at that pace. The band is unbelievably tight on this song. I can’t imagine the number of hours that went in to rehearsing it took to get this song the way it sounds live. The final 30 seconds of the song not only feature brilliant work by Sheila E, but an amazing guitar solo from Prince that doesn’t get the mention that it deserves when people talk about his work. This solo belongs in the pantheon. Check it out above.
“Play in the Sunshine” is crazy high energy fun, but believe it or not, I would rate it as one of the weaker tracks on Sign ‘O’ the Times. That’s more a statement on the greatness of the album than it is about the song. I typically forget about it because it’s surrounded by such brilliance. It just easy to lose sandwiched between “Sign ‘O’ the Times,” “Housequake,” and “The Ballad of Dorothy Parker.” Any song would get lost in that lineup. I’m going to give “Play in the Sunshine” a 2.5 out of 5 stars and acknowledge that it’s probably underrated because of its placement on one of Prince’s greatest albums.