The skewed perspective of a conservative Catholic employee-side employment lawyer living in the most exciting city in the Milky Way, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, who listens to a lot of really strange music and who, for some reason, lives and dies St. Louis Cardinal baseball

4/14/2005

Prince - "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man"

The journey through Prince's classic side three of the Sign o' the Times concludes with one of the greatest pop songs in the history of Top 40: "I Could Never Take the Place of Your Man." This is a 900-page novel disguised as three minute, forty second pop tune (extended out to 6:29 on the album cut).

The song is built on a very simple, descending melody. The production is top notch, with Wendy & Lisa's background vocals set perfectly apart from Prince's lead. Like a perfectly spiced meal, their vocals meld perfectly into the voice, while remaining distinct. And Prince's delivery of the vocal is spot-on, appropriately sexy, with just the right amount of leer ("She was standin' by the bar / Hmm, she was lookin' alright"). Empathetic, yet appropriately dismissive.

If you listen closely to the lyrics - and you should - two minutes into the track and both the woman (whose old man ran away only last June) and the protagonist are completely three-dimensional characters. Neither is a mere composite or archetype: these are real live flesh and blood. You feel terribly sad for the woman desperate for a friend of any sort; you also perfectly understand the emotions and needs character played by Prince and appreciate the brutal honesty of the lyric. A 110-minute big screen romance does not pack as a much real emotion as this little pop song.

It's an extraordinary pop song. Good enough, most certainly, to be song o' the day.
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