My Top 1000 Songs #398: When You Were Mine

[I've been writing up my Top 1000 songs on a daily basis--you can see them all in descending order by hitting the All My Favorite Songs tag.]

Like any living, breathing mortal, I have huge love and respect for Prince's vast catalog of R&B and funk, much of which rests comfortably at genius-level. Still, as a guy who's listening interests tends to stick with rock and pop, my favorite Prince track is the somewhat uncharacteristic "When You Were Mine," off 1980's Dirty Mind. The track has a lot more in common with new wave-era pop music than most of his work. It's got a slinky, treble-heavy hook, punctuated by staccato guitars and a bit of cheesy organ, made Prince-like primarily through his distinctive falsetto. The production is arguably a bit thin, evincing its home-studio recording roots, and you've gotta turn to later live versions to hear a more fully-realized sound that better reflects Prince's ridiculous R&B chops, but the bare-bones studio recording also gives it a bit of modest charm.

The song makes for great mixtape fodder, something that perfectly captures the vibe of pop radio's early 80s pivot from classic rock into new wave (even if I don't remember this song getting the airplay it deserved at the time; I probably didn't hear it until Cyndi Lauper covered it on 1983's inescapable She's So Unusual).

An early live version:
Getting the full-on live Prince treatment:
The Cyndi Lauper version:
Lauper live: