Last week I got the Love Symbol album three out of four days. This week I start with Sign ‘O’ the Times on back-to-back days. I’m going to take that as a good omen.
Maybe the Prince Song Randomizer is as excited as I am for the Sign ‘O’ the Times Super Deluxe Edition coming in September. I noticed in going through the notes about the upcoming reissue that the 120-page book is going to contain new liner notes from people like Dave Chappelle, Lenny Kravitz, Andrea Swensson, and “Prince Scholar” Duane Tudahl. I love Duane Tudahl’s work and am as excited for his upcoming book Prince and the Parade and Sign “O” the Times Era Studio Session : 1985 and 1986 as I am for the new music. If this book is as informative as his first one about the Purple Rain era, this is going to be a treat. Still…I’m mad jealous that he gets the title of Prince Scholar. I gotta find out what test I need to pass to get my PhD in Princeology.
Enough b.s. If I’m gonna attain Prince Scholar status I need to start by getting to today’s song, “It.” “It” is the fifth track from 1987’s classic Sign ‘O’ the Times. I’ll give you one guess what the “it” is that Prince is referring to in the song title. I shouldn’t assume anything. Technically he never comes right out and says what “it” is, but if you follow the lyrics it’s obvious. Knowing Prince, though, he could be referring to prayer but he’s disguising it to sound like sex.
Unlike his earlier work on this topic, “It” takes a different approach. There’s nothing complicated about this song lyrically, but the sexuality is less blunt than his early-80’s stuff. Dirty Mind delivers with freakery like “Head” and “Sister.” Songs like “Do Me, Baby,” and “Lady Cab Driver” hit you over the head with extended audio of (I assume) simulated sex. 1999 is loaded with endless nasty synth funk like “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” and “Automatic.” “It” is different. More mature…or at least as mature as a track with lines like “I wanna do it baby all the time, all right. ‘Cause when we do it girl, it’s so divine, all right,” can be. “It” has a more unique sound. It certainly fits in better with Prince’s sound in 1987 than the older stuff. Like so many other songs from Sign ‘O’ the Times, nobody else was making music that sounds that way.
For better or for worse, Prince left the funk of the early-80’s out of this track. That leaves me with an important question: Do you prefer his early-80’s funk or his more polished and mature Sign ‘O’ the Times work? I’ll take the funk every day. Sign is an amazing album that gave us so much, but when it comes to Prince getting nasty I’ll take the early stuff. “It” is cool, but much like yesterday’s “Play in the Sunshine,” it is not one of my top tracks on this album. While I enjoy it and listen to the whole album frequently, “It” is not one of my go-to Prince songs. I prefer more funk.