Little Red Corvette is 30.
Think about that for a second. One of Prince’s best known songs (always lifted by Chevrolet for some advertising campaign) was released a single 30 years ago today from the famous “1999“ album. One of my favorites from the Purple One, “Little Red Corvette” is a testament to Prince’s songwriting genius, using one of the most famous cars in history as a metaphor for the insatiable sex drive of a partner whom he desired.
The intro, highlighted by a steady drum thump (similar to a heartbeat) and subtle keyboard riff, sets the scene so well you can almost visualize an open road and a red Corvette speeding down the road as the sun begins to set. The theme itself, clever wordplay aside, is something men have struggled with possibly since the beginning of the sexual revolution that has been ongoing since the 1970s – a woman in control, knowing what she wants, leaving a man somewhat powerless.
You can almost hear the defeated tone in Prince’s voice as he sings “Guess I should’ve known by the way you parked your car sideways that it wouldn’t last.” It’s something that has happened to all of us, whether we choose to admit it or not, and one of Prince’s gifts within his musical talent is the way he expresses vulnerability. Nowhere is that more evident then on “Little Red Corvette” where he wonders aloud if he has what it takes to slow this woman down.
The track itself alternates back and forth from the deliberate pulsating intro to a somewhat urgent declaration of desire punctuated by Dez Dickerson’s bad ass guitar work throughout the song. Complete with phenomenal keyboard work and drum programming from Prince, “Little Red Corvette” became one of his signature songs, moving him from an androgynous unknown to a certified superstar alongside Michael Jackson in the early 1980s.
Anniversaries like this become a reminder of how far away we’re getting from the era that a lot of our favorite superstars dominating their fields. But however, it is Saturday night, I guess that makes it alright to take a look back at one of the greatest songs of the 80s.