Friday, January 3, 2020

"Will Anybody See the Dawn?" - "Signs of the Times" Magazine

Image of "Signs of the Times" magazine
March 1987 issue of Signs of the Times magazine.
Photo courtesy of Pacific Press Publishing Association. 

Rule #1: Never assume Prince read something.

Rule #2: Never assume Prince didn't read something.

Rule #3: Never assume what Prince read had an impact on his music.

Rule #4: Never assume what Prince read didn't have an impact on his music.

All of that is to say this post is all in good fun. The above is a screenshot of the March 1987 issue of Signs of the Times, a monthly Seventh-day Adventist magazine. The publication has been around in different formats since 1874.

Prince grew up attending Seventh-day Adventist church services, and he released his Sign O' the Times album in March 1987.

I thought it would be fun to take a look at the issue of Signs of the Times that came out at that time to see if there was any coincidental overlap in subject matter. After examining the titles of the feature articles--"How would the Founding Fathers feel about the trend of religious and political leaders switching roles today?"; "Solving the Problem of Heartache;" The Menace of Midtown Memphis"--I didn't find any common ground. But then again, I don't know anything about the actual content of the pieces.

I can, however, hear Prince imitating Thomas Jefferson in my head.

Of course, I know Prince completed the album before this magazine issue came out, and I wouldn't guess he was reading the publication at the height of his superstardom in the 1980s.

But I think it's reasonable to speculate that Prince was exposed to Signs of the Times as a child. I might reach out to the church he attended to see if they were passed around in the '60s. I know the "signs" of end times is a subject found in the Bible and the phrase "sign of the times" is common in American language, so I'm not implying Prince got his album title from a niche publication.

But you have to admit, it's an interesting little ripple in the deep well of Prince's spiritual world.

Now, the Jehovah's Witnesses' Watchtower magazines have had an obvious impact on Prince. We'll get to those before long.

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