I’ve criticized Prince’s 1994 album, Come, on this site in the past. I’m here beg your pardon and do an about face. I’m not going to try to claim anything outrageous like it’s Prince’s best album, but it deserves more credit than it gets. The more I listen to it, the more it grows on me. In a confusing move, the album and single are credited to Prince even though he changed his name to the Love Symbol O(+> in 1993 and had already released the smash it single “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” under the new name. Prince did put 1958-1993 (his birth year and presumably the year “Prince” died) on the album cover and the artwork was a black and white photo of him standing in front of a gate to what could be a cemetery.
“Letitgo” was the first single released from Come in August of 1994. It spent 14 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and peaked at #31. There are numerous remixes out there – the “Caviar Radio Edit,” the “On the Cool-Out Tip Radio Edit,” and the “Sherm Stick Edit” – but I believe they’re all inferior to the album version so I’m going to focus on that. The first thing that jumps out at me in the song is that it doesn’t have that classic Prince sound. I smell a sample… Sure enough, a trip to the fantastic website whosampled.com reveals that “Letitgo” contains a sample of “Funky President (People It’s Bad)” by James Brown. Apparently Prince wasn’t the only person who dug that song as, according to Who Sampled, “Funky President” has been sampled in 897 songs! Long live James Brown.
What strikes me about this song is the lyrics. They reveal Prince (or O(+>) ready to open up. Check the first verse and chorus:
All my life I’ve kept my feelings deep inside
Never was a reason to let somebody know
Lover here, lover there, Who cried? Who cared? Foolish pride
Never was a good seat at any of this man’s showsUntil now all I wanted to do is
Do do do what I do, and
Bang bang bang on the drummer
And love so-and-soBut now I’ve got to let it go
Lay back and let the vibe just flow
I want to just let it go
Lay back and let my feelings show
I’m ready for the real
Give me something I can feel
This may be the closest Prince got to letting people past his carefully crafted wall in years. It may have been a tease, too, because I don’t recall much changing about Prince’s public persona or attitude toward the media in the years that followed. It still makes for a cool track with some mellow funk.
“Letitgo” and the entire Come album deserve more of our attention than they’ve gotten. I’ve heard it referred to as a throwaway album that Prince put out just to get one album closer to ending his contract with Warner Brothers, but I don’t hear it that way. There’s some good music there and I count “Letitgo” in that category. I recommend it as a good sleeper Prince single that most people have likely never heard.