In Hear This, A.V. Club writers sing the praises of songs they know well. This week: Songs we felt we had to hide from others.
My oldest sister was almost done with high school when I was just a 7-year-old pup starting to get obsessed with music, and her record collection was pretty incredible for someone her age in 1981: I listened without any preconceived notions to The Residents, Circle Jerks, and more. I was especially enamored with the title track to Prince’s 1981 album Controversy—I still am, really—but I’d occasionally get through the entire record, which ends with the rollicking, ridiculous “Jack U Off.” It may be the least subtle song in a catalog full of unsubtle sex jams, with every verse featuring a new location in which Prince offers to, um, jack you off: movie show, restaurant, his neighborhood, on a date, in your mama’s car (a Cadillac). Now, as a second- or third-grader, I clearly had no idea what services Prince was so keen to provide, I just liked the sound of the words. It ends like this: “I’ll jack you o-o-o-off, I’ll jack you off.” I remember distinctly approaching our family car, a red AMC Matador, jauntily singing the song to myself. One of my sisters froze and said, “Sing that again! Sing it to Mom!” I knew immediately that singing it to my mom was a bad idea, though I imagine she probably would’ve just laughed and told me not to sing it at school. (God bless you, Mom.) “Jack U Off” was never a hit, and it’s overshadowed by much better songs—“Controversy” and “Sexuality”—not to mention albums. But it’s got a special place in my heart for accidentally making me say the darndest things.