Of Course Prince Wrote a Song Called ‘Wonderful Ass': 365 Prince Songs in a Year
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To celebrate the incredibly prolific, influential and diverse body of work left behind by Prince, we will be exploring a different song of his each day for an entire year with the series 365 Prince Songs in a Year.
Although he was quite capable of dazzling lyrical innuendo and metaphor, sometimes Prince just decided to throw any sense of subtlety out the window and say exactly what was on his (dirty) mind.
Some of the more famous examples of this approach include “Head,” “Sister,” “Sexy MF” and “P—- Control.” Another is the frequently bootlegged 1983 composition “Wonderful Ass,” which will finally get an official release this month as part of the expanded edition of Purple Rain.
Over a typically excellent demonstration of his early ’80s blend of dry funk guitar, drum machines and icy synthesizers, the song finds Prince unable to deny his physical attraction to a lover who doesn’t seem to be right for him in other ways: “You think that all my friends are my bedmates / True love before sex you just can’t relate / My sensibilities you aggravate / [But] you’ve got a wonderful ass.”
In a June 2017 interview with the Star Tribune about “Wonderful Ass” and the other newly released tracks on this, the first major archival release since Prince’s untimely death last April, Revolution keyboardist Lisa Coleman reveals that the lighthearted song was inspired by the impressive posteriors of both her longtime collaborator and Revolution bandmate Wendy Melvoin and Wendy’s twin sister Susannah — who Prince was romantically involved with at the time.
“Wendy and her twin sister, Susannah, are pretty famous for having nice butts,” Coleman explains. “And Prince did have one of the world’s cutest butts. Prince was dating Susannah, and I was with Wendy. It was us being goofy about our girlfriends. I sang co-lead with Prince. It was a happy-go-lucky time.”
As the Prince Vault notes, “Wonderful Ass” also features a section where Prince rattles off a list of rhyming verbs (“Educate, tolerate, negotiate, communicate / Litigate, graduate, appreciate, separate / Interrogate, violate, fluctuate, perpetrate / Masturbate, stimulate, stimulate, stimulate”) in a style reminiscent of fellow Minnesota music legend Bob Dylan‘s landmark 1965 song “Subterranean Homesick Blues” — a full four years before INXS released their own “Homesick” tribute “Mediate.”
In 2016, Victor DeLorenzo of the Violent Femmes revealed that Prince had offered the song to the band for their album Why Do Birds Sing? At the time, the two acts were recording in adjacent studios, and the connection was made by Susan Rogers, who was engineering both acts. The Violent Femmes declined the opportunity.
Prince Albums Ranked in Order of Awesomeness