With intertwining acoustic and electric guitars, and Buffalo Springfield's effervescent backup harmonies, Stephen Stills paid tribute to a "Rock & Roll Woman" who epitomized cool hipness. The lyrics were inspired by one of the biggest female rock superstars of the age, Jefferson Airplane's Grace Slick. The idea for the music, Stills confirmed, "came from jamming with David Crosby at his house. We got hung up on the F to D change in D-modal, which is mountain minor tuning. We kept playing it over and over and over again."
“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.