Prince's Lyrics Gave Clues to His Personal Politics
Songs like "Animal Kingdom" and "Ronnie, Talk to Russia" are very telling.
— -- Prince didn't need speeches and formal declarations to prove that he cared about a lot of social issues. Instead, his lyrics spoke for him.
"Prince was more of a social advocate versus being a political advocate," frequent "The View" contributor and creator of AlwaysAList.com Jawn Murray told ABC News. "Prince was more so about the empowerment of the people. We all know he was a man of few words, but when he did speak he made a huge impact."
Prince's impact was most felt in his songs, whose lyrics touched on a variety of issues close to Prince's heart. Here's a sampling of his most powerful music:
Prince released this tribute last year and performed it at a benefit concert in Baltimore after the death of Freddie Gray. In the song, Prince croons: "Does anybody hear us pray/For Michael Brown or Freddie Gray? ... Are we gonna see another bloody day?/We're tired of the cryin' and people dyin'/Let's take all the guns away."
"Ronnie, Talk to Russia"
In this 1981 song from Prince's aptly-named album, "Controversy," the singer was speaking directly to President Ronald Reagan, even referencing him by name. It was a time when the U.S. was in the midst of the Cold War. He sang, "Ronnie talk to Russia before it's too late/Before it's too late ... Ronnie talk to Russia before it’s too late/Before they blow up the world."
"Sign o' the Times"
This 1987 song from the album of the same name was Prince's reaction to the HIV/AIDS epidemic, making the "Purple Rain" singer one of the first artists to speak out about the disease. He sang, "In France, a skinny man died of a big disease with a little name/By chance his girlfriend came across a needle and soon she did the same."
In this track, Prince revealed his stance on animal rights. In fact, the song was so beloved by animal rights activists, Prince ended up donating it to PETA to be used by the organization. In "Animal Kingdom," Prince sings: "No member of the animal kingdom nurses past maturity/No member of the animal kingdom ever did a thing to me/It's why I don't eat red meat or white fish ... Leave your brothers and sisters in the sea."
"Ol' Skool Company"
With a country still reeling from the Great Recession, Prince debuted this song in 2009, shedding light on his feelings about the Wall Street bailout a year earlier. "Fat cats on Wall Street/They got a bailout," Prince sang, "While somebody else got to wait/700 billion but my old neighborhood/Ain't nothing changed but the date."
"Money Don't Matter 2 Night"
This song is from one of Prince's best known albums, "Diamonds and Pearls," and was released in 1991 in the midst of the Gulf War. The singer addresses it, singing, "Hey now, maybe we can find a good reason/To send a child off to war/So what if we're controllin' all the oil/Is it worth a child dying for?"
Another song released in 2009, "Dreamer" reveals Prince's thoughts on racial inequality and his frustration that it remained a problem decades after the Civil Rights Movement. In this song, Prince even references Dr. Martin Luther King's assassination. "Eye was born and raised on the same plantation/In the United States of the red, white and blue/I never knew that I was different/Until Dr. King was on the balcony," he said.