Prince: Sign O’ The Adolescent Times

In late 1987, there were three records that my world revolved around. They were Appetite For Destruction by Guns N’ Roses, Introducing The Hardline According To Terence Trent D’arby by Terence Trent D’arby, and Sign O’ The Times by Prince. I spent countless hours allowing those songs to wash over me. However, one song in particular out of all these really captured my 13 year old imagination, and that was Prince’s “I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man.”

To this day, I am not sure why the connection to that song was so strong. I vividly remember staring out the window into a snowy Ohio winter night, and imagining a whole scenario, starring myself, playing out along with the lyrics. To summarize, the song is about a guy (presumably Prince), who sees an attractive woman standing at a bar. He approaches her, and asks her if she wants to dance, and she proceeds to unload all of her problems on him, mainly the fact that she has a child, is currently pregnant again, and the father left her without a trace. She also expresses an interest in Prince possibly being able to fill that void, and Prince’s reaction is basically, “Whoa! We might be able to hook up tonight, but that’s about it!” She then proceeds to tell Prince that she is so heartbroken, she basically wants to die. At this point, Prince starts to shy away from the one-night-stand idea, and tells her that she would never be satisfied with that anyway. Wow.

At this point, you may be wondering how a 13 year old kid can relate to any of this? The truth is I have absolutely no idea. However, in my imagination, I was able to interject myself into Prince’s role in the scenario. In other words, I could see myself walking into the dark bar, shaking off the cold from outside, and immediately seeing the woman at the bar, and making my way towards her. I was decked out in Prince-like attire, complete with peach and black colors. I could even see the band playing on stage, as well as the look of despair on the woman’s face as she described her plight. I also distinctly recall that I would take a break from my fantasy scenario to make sure that I played air guitar along with Prince’s blistering solo, then I would go right back to make-believe land.

Now, there are a few minor issues with this scenario that my 13 year old self somehow never noticed. First, how would I have just been able to walk into a bar at that age? Second, what grown ass woman old enough to have a kid, and be pregnant again, would spill their guts to a 13 year old kid? Especially a kid wearing a crazy looking peach and black outfit! More importantly, what is a woman with a kid and another one on the way doing in a bar at “10:35 on a lonely Friday night?” Oh well, it was my imagination, so I made the rules.

The point I am trying to make in all this is that Prince is one hell of a storyteller. He might be the best ever. When he paints a picture, it is as vivid as they come. Whether he is speaking with his voice, or guitar, he commands attention like nobody else.