Recorded in a farmhouse in Brownstown, Indiana, “Pink Houses” was inspired by a tableau that the heartland rocker witnessed on a highway overpass. Just as the song's opening verse tells it, there was an elderly African-American gentleman “sitting on the porch of his pink shack with a cat in his arms,” John Mellencamp told Rolling Stone. “He waved, and I waved back. That's how the song started.” This song, and the Uh-huh album it was taken from, won over previously skeptical music critics with its rootsy populist rock.
“I don’t consider myself a great poet,” Prince told Rolling Stone. “I just know I’m here to say what’s on my mind.” In the case of the apocalyptic party anthem “1999,” he was worried about then-president Ronald Reagan’s foreign policies. The song’s melody is based on a riff borrowed from the Mamas and Papas’ “Monday, Monday,” and Prince originally envisioned the first verse with three-part harmony but later split the vocals between himself and members of the Revolution. Because Warner Bros., with whom Prince was locked in a contractual battle, owned the original’s masters, Prince rerecorded the song and appropriately released that version in 1999.