“Let’s Pretend We’re Married” – 1999 (1982)

Prince (and the Revolution) released 1999 in 1982. “Let’s Pretend We’re Married” is the fourth track from the album 1999. 1999 is Prince’s fifth record. If you’re still not sure which album I’m talking about, it’s the one with the cartoon penis on the cover – 1999. The album was released by Warner Brothers on 27 October 1982 as a double vinyl LP, a cassette tape and this was the first Prince album released on Compact Disc (and probably one of the earliest CDs released ever citation needed). That original pressing of the CD didn’t include “D.M.S.R”, allegedly due to limitations on the size of the disc, but 1999 is 70 minutes and 28 seconds long (or thereabouts) and the alleged capacity of the first CDs was 74 minutes (room for Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 9”[1]). Sounds like they had enough space. The whole thing stinks of conspiracy to me. And more to the point, if you’re gonna drop one of the tracks from this album, why “D.M.S.R”? If it was any other artist I’d say the label made him drop the song because of its suggestive lyrics. But this is Prince; getting’ freaky is his bread and butter (or at least it was). I can’t explain how the decision was made but that happens a lot whenever I talk to people about Prince and his music – sometimes it’s just better to accept the way things are and move on.

 

This is also the first album to have “and the Revolution” added to the cover (in backwards type no less – how will we ever read it?). The “original” line up included Wendy, Lisa, Bobby Z, Dr Fink and Brown Mark (with Eric Leeds on the sax). Dez Dickerson does appear on this album in a few places but I don’t think he was ever “officially” part of the Revolution. The cover art on 1999 is pretty interesting with the number “1” in “1999” drawn as the aforementioned penis (artwork by Prince’s libido). The words “and the Revolution” appear in the middle of the letter “i” in “Prince” in a shape that looks like a football (of the American variety) but the football appears to represent part of a globe of some kind with a pair of eyes looking down on it over the horizon next to a chocolate chip cookie. So it appears that the message is “Prince is leading a global revolution with his penis (and there’ll be cookies).” Sounds like it might be one of the more enjoyable revolutions that our little planet has seen; shame it didn’t work out. The cover also has an early (perhaps the first?) incarnation of the love symbol. It’s upside down and kind of looks like a banjo but there’s no mistaking it. The inside cover (of the CD at least) has a picture of a tastefully naked Prince (with tastefully covered buttocks) lying face down on a bed with his water colours out and a blank piece of paper in front of him (paintbrush in hand) but he’s giving the camera the Christopher Tracy eyes and not looking at the paper. I guess that’s why the paper’s blank – it’s hard to draw when you’re being so damn seductive.

 

“Let’s Pretend We’re Married” is track four on both versions of the CD and the cassette (what are those?) and track one on side two of the vinyl. It was recorded on 30 March 1982 at Sunset Sound (in glamorous Hollywood, California). This was the last of the singles released from 1999 (released on 23 November 1983, 13 months after the album came out), backed with the B-side “Irresistible Bitch”. Interestingly “Irresistible Bitch” received just as much airplay as the A-side, which makes sense if you look at both songs as a thematic pair focused around mouth-sex and loose women. Plus they’re both pretty decent songs, which helps. Musically this song is relatively simple – drum machine and keyboard. That’s pretty much all there is, right? Are there any other instruments on this track? Definitely no other musicians. Surely they would be surplus to requirements. There’s no mistaking this as an early 80s track and the intro and pulsing rhythm of this song kind of reminds me of “Neutron Dance” by the Pointer Sisters (released in 1984). I can picture this song being used by some LA gym in the early 80s for their new “aerobics” classes – Jane Fonda would’ve had this song in high rotation.

 

Excuse me but I need a mouth like yours
To help me forget the girl that just walked out my door
Funny but it seems that you’re alone like me
If you are, go, let’s come see what we can see

 

Straight into the mouth-fucking. Presumably the mouth could be attached to bag of dicks filled with elephant shit and it would suffice. Too bad for Prince that the Fleshlight was still 16 years away. But I guess when you don’t have an inanimate object nearby that you can use and objectify then a woman will do. But why does he need the mouth and the accompanying mouth-fucking you may ask. He just needs the mouth-fucking to help him forget (Lethe’s blowjob for you classicists out there). He’s on the rebound. Heartbroken. Whatever will he do? The object of his desire here seems to be single, which is important. Because married mouths have other obligations. No time to see whatever Prince has for them to see. Notice the way he’s phrased the last line “If you are, go, let’s come see”, not “If you are, come, let’s go see” which would make more grammatical sense and give the sense that he wants her to follow his lead (to the mouth-fucking). The way he’s written it allows him to plant the idea “let’s come” in the object’s mind, suggesting he’s not just about the mouth-fucking for his own selfish reasons but it’s for her too (what a gentleman). Even the way he delivers the words emphasises “let’s come”. They kind of pop into your ear.

 

Ooh, little darlin’ if you’re
Free for a couple of hours (Free for a couple of hours)
If you ain’t busy for the next seven years (Next seven years)
Say, let’s pretend we’re married and go all night
There ain’t nothin’ wrong if it feels all right
I won’t stop until the morning light
Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night, tonight

 

There’s nothing wrong, if it feels right (how hedonistic). But in order for it to feel right, I have to pretend I’m married. Because I wanna mouth-fuck you but I also want Ronald Regan to be okay with it? It’s a confused message to say the least. He’s happy to give her a throw or two for a couple of hours but hey stick around for a bit and pretend to be my wife if you like. And why seven years (longer than either of his marriages)? He could’ve used any number here (“if you ain’t busy for the next million years”) but he goes with lucky number seven (“watch them fall” – into his pants!). He’s trying to convince himself that mouth-fucking this new girl will take his mind off the girl from the opening line. When you think about what’s going on here, the underlying message is that Prince is sad and lonely. He wants to slut it up and try to fuck away the blues. On the surface it may seem like this song is about free-love and oral-pleasure but underneath there’s still this heartache that’s triggering this reaction. If there ain’t nothing wrong if the feeling is right then why do you need to pretend to be married? Shouldn’t the feeling (and the mouth-fucking) be sufficient? He’s trying to combine his free-love ideas with his conservative moralism. He’s yearning for comfort and understanding in the guise of a “wife” but he has to coat it in this sexual veneer so that he doesn’t fall apart on us.

 

Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah
All the hippies sing together

 

Hippies = free love = sexy times. There’s lots of mouth-fucking and freedom in the commune. Hippies get another mention on this album (“take a bath hippy!”) and it appears that from the context being a free-loving hippy is a good thing (later in his career Prince will go on to wish he was born on the Woodstock stage). The lines themselves have nothing to do with the rest of the lyrics other than to put the idea of “hippies” in people’s minds with all the baggage that label comes with. This is also a good excuse to introduce a sing-a-long chorus. Sure it’s essentially meaningless but it’s fun and it has the added bonus of helping Prince forget about his broken heart and all the forgetful mouth-fucking.

 

Excuse me but I need your chemistry
Don’t you wanna be my fantasy?
My girl’s gone and she don’t care at all
And if she did – So what? C’mon baby, let’s b-b-ball

 

Back to his girl leaving him. She left him but he just can’t let her go, can he. He got dumped and she doesn’t seem too hung up about it. Which means he screwed up or she realised he just wasn’t the long term relationship type of guy. He might be able to pretend to be married and committed but to actually do it is a step too far. Which is his ultimate downfall. He thinks he’s figured out that women want commitment so he’s willing to give it a try even if it is just a pretend. He’s claiming that even if his ex did still feel for him he wouldn’t care (then why keep bringing her up?). He’d still wanna play ball (baseball? basketball? testicle?). And that’s likely the reason that his lady left him. He’s a sex-mad hippie with no impulse control. Even if his ex still loved him and wanted him back he’d still want to hook up with the new girl mouth vagina. Or that’s the line he’s feeding her so that he can get into her pants/mouth – “I want you baby, none of those other girls mean anything to me”, or something like that.

 

Ooh little darlin’ if you’re
Free for a couple of hours (Free for a couple of hours)
If you ain’t busy for the next seven years (Next seven years)
Oh I say let’s pretend we’re married and go all night
There ain’t nothin’ wrong if it feels all right
I won’t stop until the morning light
Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night, tonight

Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah
All the hippies sing together

Let’s just pretend we’re married, tonight

Excuse me but I need a mouth like yours
To help me forget the girl that just walked out my door
Let’s pretend we’re married and do it all night
I won’t stop until the morning light

 

A lot of repetition in the lyrics while the underlying music keeps driving forward in the same intense disco rhythm (work those thighs!). All signifying his heightened libido and desire. He wants to do her all night. The way married people do? Do married people even have sex?

 

Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night
Ooh, little darlin’ if you’re
Free for a couple of hours (Free for a couple of hours)
If you ain’t busy for the next seven years (Next seven years)
Oh darlin’, let’s preted we’re married and go all night
There ain’t nothin’ wrong if it feels all right
I won’ stop until the morning light
Let’s pretend we’re married and go all night, tonight
(Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah)
Pretend we’re married
Let’s pretend we’re married

Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah
All the hippies sing together
Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah
Oh everybody yeah
Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah
All the hippies sing together
Ooh-we-sha-sha-coo-coo-yeah
Yeah, yeah
My girl’s gone and she don’t care at all
And if she did – So what? C’mon baby, let’s ball

 

Back to the break-up. And the hippies. And the marriage. And balls. It feels like there could have been some editing with this song and we still would have gotten the general idea.

 

I wanna fuck you so bad it hurts, it hurts, it hurts
I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna fuck you
Yeah, I wanna, I wanna, I wanna wanna, I wanna fuck you
Look here Marsha, I’m not sayin’ this just to be nasty
I sincerely wanna fuck the taste out of your mouth
Can you relate?

 

He’s really serious about the mouth-fucking isn’t he? His sincerity is so clearly evident. Don’t think he’s trying to be lewd or gaudy folks. He’s as serious as a heart attack. I’d be interested to know just how one fucks the taste out of another’s mouth. Surely they could still taste your cock and/or your semen? Or is Prince saying that he wants to mouth-fuck this girl so hard that the taste buds will come loose from her tongue and she will be unable to taste anything? Or that the mouth-fucking (or the vagina-fucking, or, dare we say it – even the butt-fucking) will perhaps sever or numb the part of her brain that registers taste. Sounds a little rapey, don’t you think? Plus, what’s in it for the girl other than a throat full of semen and pubic hair? He’s pushing the lyrical envelope here but I’m not sure it’s necessary. He claims he’s not saying “just to be nasty” but we all know that’s bullshit. That’s the only reason he’s saying it. But yes, I can relate.

 

My girl’s gone and she don’t care at all
And if she did – I wouldn’t care. Let’s ball

 

Back to the ex. This is clearly a revenge fuck for Prince. But he’s totally over her. He could totally stop talking about her if he wanted to. He just doesn’t want to right now.

 

Whatever you heard about me is true
I change the rules and do what I wanna do
I’m in love with God, he’s the only way
‘Cuz you and I know we gotta die some day
If you think I’m crazy, you’re probably right
But I’m gonna have fun every motherfuckin’ night
If you like to fight, you’re a double-drag fool
I’m goin’ to another life, how ’bout you?

 

Unlike “Controversy” (another 7 minute song) he’s actually confirming that the stories about him are true. He’s saying that we can believe all the things people say (“controversy”). Yes, he’s black and white. Yes, he’s straight and gay. Yes, he’s changed the rule that says you have to be a timid, sexless wallflower to be a good Christian. He’s admitting that the controversy is true. But he raises an interesting question – if we’re right to think he’s crazy does that mean that you have to be crazy to love god? He knows that he’s going to die and that’s why he believes. Essentially he’s saying that he’s afraid of hell and he’s betting on god. But he still wants to have the mouth-fucking and the fun. In this life and the next.

 

There’s a formula at work in this song that uses a lot of common Prince elements. The sexy song with religion added to it. The seven minute “dance” track. The heartache of being dumped that gets covered over and hidden by the graphic sexual lyrics. The graphic sexual content here is a young man’s braggadocio and inability to take responsibility for his failed relationship. The one man band musical production. The drum machine and keyboard. Lyrically it falls into the same musical family as “Controversy” and “Temptation” (there are more but this isn’t a BuzzFeed list). This song is about sex, god, heartache and orgasm (not necessarily in that order); themes that are constant throughout his career. This is just an early example. Ending the song on a religious note highlights what he’s really all about and what he’s really thinking. The sexual aspect is important too and its repetition emphasises his desires alongside his beliefs. If they pretend to be married they can satiate their carnal desires whilst still being accepted in the eyes of heaven. It’s Prince trying to reconcile his love for god with his extreme desire to fuck everything that gets in his way.

 

Running time: 7:21

 

References:
1999 (released 1982)
Controversy (released 1981)
Around the World in a Day (released 1985)
The Peach & Black Podcast
Wikipedia
Prince Vault
AZ Lyrics
Prince In Print
Prince.org

 

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compact_Disc_Digital_Audio#Storage_capacity_and_playing_time

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