The Spin Doctors are a New York group led by Chris Barron, who rocked a very disheveled look at the time. They were tagged an "alternative" band, which was good for marketing purposes, since it made them sound edgy. Really, they were a rock band with pop appeal, and in 1993 there was a huge demand for their sound, especially among Top 40 radio stations who were pushing back against the tide of hip-hop.
Their first single, "Little Miss Can't Be Wrong," was a modest hit, climbing to #17 in the US. "Two Princes" did far better, becoming their biggest hit and best-known song. Both songs were composed by the entire band: Baron, Aaron Comess, Eric Schenkman and Mark White.
In this song, Chris Barron takes the voice of a poor prince (must be a pretty lame kingdom) trying to convince a girl that she should marry him instead of his wealthy counterpart. The underdog theme shows up a lot in Barron's lyrics; something he attributes to his itinerant childhood - he spent time in Australia and Europe before settling in New Jersey.
Chris Barron is a literature fanatic, which played a part in this song. In a Songfacts interview, he explained: "I loved The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. I was really into fantasy fiction and stuff like that. I wrote that song when I was 19, so I was still coming out of childhood, and as a child I loved wizards and kings and queens and princess and princesses and stuff like that. And I loved Shakespeare - I already was way into Shakespeare. So I gravitated towards that kind of imagery just because I liked books and poems from that period of time."
The "just go ahead now" refrain came a guy named Mickett Wilder, who was the older brother of bass player Dave Wilder and a friend of the band. They all looked up to him, so Mickett set the trends in terms of how they would dress and talk. Barron was working as a busboy when he reconnected with a girl he liked from high school, who wanted to meet up with him that night. When his shift ended, he ran into Mickett and told him about it. "Just go ahead with that. Just go ahead now," Mickett kept telling him.
The song was originally played a lot faster, but when the band came to record it, they slowed it down. Drummer Aaron Comess recalled to Mikedolbear.com: "There are certain songs when you find the right tempo, all of a sudden the lyrics come out, it feels right and I think with 'Two Princes' we really lucked out. It's one of those things, we got in the studio, found a good tempo, we recorded it, everything just really came together. It's very simple, there's not a lot of stuff on it, somehow the sound and feel we got, we just lucked out and found the perfect thing."
The line, "I know what a prince and lover ought to be" is often misheard, either as "Princeton lover" (plausible, since Barron lived in Princeton, New Jersey) or "prison lover."
This featured prominently in the Sarah Silverman Program episode "Maid to Border," as the only song her friend and neighbor has on his iPod. It also was played in Futurama as an example of "college rock" as opposed to "alternative rock."
Spin Doctors performed a parody version of this song on Sesame Street in which two princes (Elmo and Telly) ask for a play date.
Suggestion credit: Kent - Greensburg, PA
This soundtracked a Peugeot 307 advert called "Demands Attention," which was shown in Australia, Argentina, Brazil and the United Kingdom.