Single Review: Sheila E. “The Glamorous Life”

The Glamorous Life
Album: The Glamorous Life
Year: 1984

Prince protege, Sheila E. gained some fame in the 80s with the hit “The Glamorous Life,” written by Prince.

In the single, Sheila E. sings about a woman who has everything — intelligence, expensive clothes, beauty. Except she doesn’t have anyone to share her life with. She flaunts her wealth and flirts with ease (“She wears a long fur coat of mink/Even in the summertime/Everybody knows from the coy little wink/The girl’s got a lot on her mind”).

She is full of ideas and wants to be something other than average. She wants to reach the top, no matter the profession. (“She’s got big thoughts, big dreams/And a big brown Mercedes sedan”) But she’s alone. (“What I think this girl, she really wants/Is to be in love with a man”).

Strong and independent, she prefers to live life without being tied down. Without a man, she can travel at anytime, buy whatever she wants and not to have to answer to anybody. However, it’s a vapid, materialistic world she cherishes. It may be fun now, but it will be meaningless after a few years. (“She wants to lead the glamorous life/She don’t need a man’s touch/She wants to lead the glamorous life/Without love, it ain’t much”).

Casual sex is how she fulfills her physical need for love. She sees a man she likes, tells him she wants to have sex, and they do it. (“She saw him standing in the section marked
“If you have to ask, you can’t afford it” lingerie/She threw him bread and said “Make me scream”/In the dark, what could he say”). She does look for certain qualities: intelligence, good-looking, wealthy. She wants someone like her. She’s upfront and tells her one-night stand she isn’t into long-term relationships (“Boys with small talk and small minds/Really don’t impress me in bed/She said I need a man’s man baby, diamonds and furs/Love would only conquer my head”).

They quickly run to her car and have sex. However, she breaks her own rule and falls in love with him. (“They made haste in the brown sedan/They drove to 55 Secret Street/
They made love and by the 7th wave/She knew she had a problem”). She finally realizes love is possible and more gratifiying than anything she could buy. (“She thought real love is real scary/Money only pays the rent/Love is forever and that’s all your life/Love is heaven sent – it’s glamorous”). But despite the learning this, she is not quite ready to leave her world behind (“Lead the glamorous life/She don’t need a man’s touch/She wants to lead the glamorous life/Without love, it ain’t much, it ain’t much”).

It’s one of Prince’s better songs. Given the song, the character ultimately prefers her lifestyle. She changes her thinking but it’s going to take more than one encounter and lots of regret for it to sink in.

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