Prince inhabits his guitar hero mode on “Dolphin”, revving up the power chords and dropping one of his all time best solos. It’s the best track on ‘95’s The Gold Experience LP and might be my favorite song of the many he made during his “Artist Formerly Known As…” period.
“Dolphin” is clearly about reincarnation, but a slightly closer look at the lyrics reveal that Prince may have had his own “spiritual reincarnation” in mind when he composed it? Remember, the June 1993 name change announcement was considered the “death” of “Prince” and the “birth” of the symbol. The Come album (an iteration of which was supposed to contain “Dolphin”) was credited to “Prince, 1958-1993”. There’s the infamous Letterman performance (a year before the song was commercially released) and there are death/reincarnation references all over the Gold Experience album.
Listen even closer, and I get the impression that Warner Brothers was the target in “Dolphin”’s lyrics (I mean, it’s not a stretch.) “You can cut off all my fins but to your ways I will not bend/I’d die before I let you teach me how to swim”? Concerned that his creativity was being stifled by the conglomerate he signed with, he was now metaphorically “dying”, only to start “anew” as 0—|—>. And firing off warning shots in the process of his rebirth.