It’s been nearly a day and a half since learning of the heart-breaking death of Prince (4.21.2016). I am still numb. It hits me with little jolts to the body, which would be in line with the electrifying nature of his work, but it hasn’t fully hit me yet, though I know it will. A proper tribute will appear in my blog over the weekend, but for tonight, I wanted to share this Prince-composed masterpiece as my “song of the day.”
Prince recorded “I Feel For You” on his self-titled second album, which featured his first Top 40 hit on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, the No. 11 hit, “I Wanna Be Your Lover” (also his first of 8 No. 1 songs on BILLBOARD’s R&B chart).
Hard to imagine now, but “I Feel For You” and “I Wanna Be Your Lover” were actually written as demos for R&B singer Patrice Rushen (you’ll remember her from her big Top 40 hit in 1982, “Forget Me Nots”).
Though “I Feel For You” was never released as a Prince single, it did get covered a couple of times in the first half of the 80s – first, by The Pointer Sisters in 1982, on their album, SO EXCITED!, and by (real) 80s one-hit wonder Rebbie Jackson (of the semi-famous Jackson clan), on her 1984 album, CENTIPEDE (the title track reached No. 24 on the Hot 100).
“I Feel For You” entered the BILLBOARD Hot 100 in early September 1984, nearly a month before the I FEEL FOR YOU parent album was released. It had all the makings of a hit single – rapping by Grandmaster Melle Mel (which actually originated in his 1984 song, “Step Off”), harmonica by Stevie Wonder (even sampling his first hit, 1963’s “Fingertips”), and Chicago native Chaka Khan belting out vocals of a song written by Prince.
After a couple of months on the chart, “I Feel For You” reached the Top 10, and peaked at No. 3 for 3 weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas 1984 and spent half a year on the Hot 100, extending its stay into early March 1985. It was also a No. 1 hit on BILLBOARD’s R&B and Dance charts for 3 weeks each.
People really felt (or fell) for “I Feel For You” around the globe, as it was a Top 10 hit in Belgium, Canada, Germany and New Zealand; and, in the U.K. and Ireland, it went all the way to No. 1.
Despite its peak at No. 3 on the BILLBOARD Hot 100, its chart longevity made it easy for BILLBOARD magazine to rank “I Feel For You” at No. 5 for all of 1985, beating out at least 21 other American No. 1 songs that year, including hits by Madonna, Dire Straits, a-ha, Simple Minds and “We Are The World.” It was Chaka Khan’s biggest solo hit (and perhaps biggest overall), selling over a million copies, and won Prince (as the songwriter) a deserved Grammy Award for Best R&B Song in 1985.
Like yours truly, this gem of a cover will be on the minds of many people this week and then some, along with the unbelievable bastion of work Prince did for himself and for countless other recording artists over a span of nearly 40 years. I think I also chose this song today because, for those Prince fans kind enough to be reading these words, believe me, I do feel for you…