450: The Greatest Romance Ever Sold

Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic (1999)
There is a lot of conjecture about the lyrical meaning in this biblically themed ballad. My humble guess is that it’s a wry and honest reference to Prince and Mayte’s relationship being mythologised and mined in an attempt to make a hit single, with his line “2gether we make the remix a big seller” on the b-side echoing this aim for commercial success. But it’s cryptic enough to choose your own interpretation. The original version’s lyrics are not as overtly cynical as the title suggests and if it had the expected “told” in the title instead of the ambiguous “sold” (and didn’t feature a pile of money on the single artwork) I imagine it would be viewed in a more sincere, albeit less intriguing, light. I know I would have simply accepted the line “so this is where U end, and U and I begin” as a beautiful evocation of the “one flesh” in Genesis, instead of wondering it it’s Prince’s parallax between his relationship’s actuality and mythology. And is the “real reason that Adam never left Eve” because he was committed to the myth? Leaving aside the deep waters of the lyrics, the music seduces and beguiles, smooth as warm milk, with Arabic scales and turntable punctuation floating alongside the swelling vocals. Subtle, alluring and darkly mysterious  – it’s no wonder that it didn’t fare well in the amplified stock-market floor of the charts. Question marks lose out to exclamation points.