Happy 30th birthday Little Red Corvette
It’s the track that catapulted Prince onto the world stage. And 30 years later this funk-rock groove still thrills like a grid of sports cars revving up under the starter’s flag. Little Red Corvette, we green-light your place in the list of all-time-great auto-themed songs.
Recorded in February 1983, LRC moved the Mineappolis maverick’s career into the fast lane. From the now-iconic album 1999, it was Prince’s first top-10 US hit, and the crowd-pleaser which opened his live shows for years.
As the lights went up Prince, draped across a scarlet Vette’s bonnet, would croon and scream this sleazy tale of his one-night stand with a beautiful but loose woman. Auto metaphors pour out – Prince urges his lover to “slow down” she replies “Baby, have you got enough gas?” The climax comes with the line “The ride is so smooth, you must be a limousine” – which in 1983, decades before Beyoncé or Rihanna strutted their stuff – had many choking on the dry ice.
If you couldn’t get to see Prince cavorting on a Corvette live, there was always MTV. LRC was only the second video showcasing a black artist – after Michael Jackson’s Billie Jean – to play in heavy rotation on the all -conquering music channel. Streaming the singer’s sound and look to homes around the globe.
Three more to celebrate
Little Red Corvette isn’t the only great auto-themed song celebrating an important birthday in 2013. Here are three more:
- Little Deuce Coupe, The Beach Boys, 1963. One of a fleet of auto-focused singles which, along with their signature tracks about surfing, steered the harmonising Californians into poll position in the early 60s pop charts. Fresh, like the Pacific air rushing through a sunroof; electric bright, like the flash of chrome in an LA rear-view mirror at noon; and 50 years young.
- Racing in the Street, Bruce Springsteen, 1978. In this 35-year-old cut from Darkness on the Edge of Town, the Boss is a guy with a dead-end job whose only soulmate is a self-built ’69 Chevy which he rides “from town to town” in search of similar desperados who race him for money. Eerily bleak and beautiful.
- Wheels, AC/DC, 2008. Who says they don’t write them like they used to? At just five years old, this titanic rocker starts in overdrive and the foot stays glued to the gas. “Rolling ’round my head, going through the red,” blazes singer Brian Johnson as Angus Young’s guitar flares like a hotrod’s exhaust.
Happy birthday to you all!
The editorial unit
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Bros