Top 10 Protest or Socially Conscious Songs from the ‘80s – Sign o’the Times by Prince

Sign o’the Times by Prince

by Robert Mishou

I love me some Prince! Return to the ‘80s has done a podcast on him and he has been written about on this very blog. In December I will be in Minneapolis for a few days and I am going to make a side trip to see Paisley Park. Prince has so many great songs, but on this one he leaves the fun behind and confronts more serious issues. What issues, you ask. These:

In France, a skinny guy died of a big disease with a little name
By chance his girlfriend came by a needle and soon she did the same
At home there are seventeen year old boys and their idea of fun
Is being in a gang called the Disciples
High on crack, totin’ a machine gun

Pretty weighty issues for the same guy who recommended that we all go crazy. Prince has definitely revealed his more serious side before this, though, in songs like the classic Purple Rain. This song continues it’s serious look at societal problems:

Hurricane Annie ripped the ceiling of a church and killed everyone inside
You turn on the telly and every other story is telling you somebody died
A sister killed her baby ’cause she couldn’t afford to feed it
And yet we’re sending people to the moon
In September, my cousin tried reefer for the very first time
Now he’s doing horse, it’s June, unh

Drugs. Violence. Hypocrisy. Prince gives us a rather scathing look at the world we live in. Not wanting to be a complete pessimist, Prince does offer us a suggestion of hope, “Let’s fall in love, get married, have a baby / We’ll call him Nate, if it’s a boy.” Prince is an excellent songwriter and Sign o’the Times is yet another example of how his songs influenced, represented, and ruled the decade.

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