The Real Meaning Behind Prince’s Raspberry Beret

The words “Raspberry Beret” don’t necessarily sound dirty, but this is a Prince song, after all, so it’s not a huge leap to assume this is a euphemism for something. (Hello, “Little Red Corvette,” anyone?) The impossibly catchy chorus — “She wore a raspberry beret. The kind you find in a secondhand store” — are maybe the most memorable lyrics of the song, but if you listen to the words from the beginning, you will hear the whole story play out. And it’s slightly less raunchy than you might assume.

“Raspberry Beret” was the lead single from the album Around the World in a Day, released in 1985, which reached No. 2 on the Billboard charts. The narrative starts out with the description of a not-so-productive, young, part-time employee of a five-and-dime shop (“Cause I was a bit too leisurely”) who was doing “something close to nothing,” when the hot girl wearing the raspberry-colored beret walks into the store. That’s when you know it’s about to be on. But in a cute way.

Prince's song is about a first-time experience

“Raspberry Beret” does not actually appear to be a euphemism after all (although, again, it’s Prince, so who knows). The story is not about a hot and heavy one night stand. It’s a sort of romantic little ditty about losing your virginity. “They say the first time ain’t the greatest, But I tell ya if I had the chance to do it all again I wouldn’t change a stroke,” is about as explicit as the lyrics get.

The music video, which was mostly directed by Prince, is interspersed with illustrated animations of teens riding off to a cartoon barn to have animated sex like they do in the song’s lyrics. Near the beginning of the video, Prince turns his head and coughs, which fans searching for some deeper meaning took to indicate some kind of secret message. But really, that’s just Prince being Prince.

It’s unlikely “Raspberry Beret” has any kind of alternate interpretation, and it’s probably not autobiographical since Prince described losing his virginity in a different song, “Schoolyard.” So fans should just enjoy it for what it is.

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