On Episode 17 of the Press Rewind – Prince Lyrics Podcast, I talk about one of Prince’s most popular non-singles, “I Feel For You.”
“I wouldn’t lie to you, baby. It’s mainly a physical thing.”
Never released as a single, “I Feel For You” was a very well-known song by the time Prince made the interesting choice to include his 1979 version on The Hits/B-Sides collection released in 1993. I think this inclusion had a lot to do with Prince wanting to remind everyone that this famous song was his before it was anyone else’s.
One of the most covered songs from Prince’s early discography, the list of singers who chose this song to cover, is impressive. Rebbie Jackson, of the famous Jackson family of musicians, and The Pointer Sisters both had their versions of this song by the time Chaka Khan released her version in 1984. The song was a worldwide smash on the pop charts, and Chaka’s vocals are on point. Still, you can’t discount contributions from Melle Mel of Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five with his memorable stuttering rap and Stevie Wonder on harmonica that helped propel this song to its chart success. I will go out on a limb and say this might be THE ONLY instance where I prefer a cover version to a Prince original. I may take some lashings in the Prince community, but I don’t think this a hot take.
With that said, Prince’s version on the Prince album is fantastic, as is the acoustic demo we were lucky enough to get from the Estate in 2019. Possibly another song inspired by Patrice Rushen (“Forget Me Nots”), Prince must have had a thing for her in 1979 to write two of his best and well-known songs, along with “I Wanna Be Your Lover,” from his second album with her in mind.
Lyrically, Prince is interested in the subject woman of the song, as initially only a physical attraction (“It’s mainly a physical thing”), but likely developing more feelings beyond this as his words suggest. To claim that he “thinks” he loves her is another clue that this a new crush and not a relationship that has been going on for some time. In the first verse, he lays it all out there and hopes for a returned affection from the woman he is interested in.
By the time he’s singing lyrics from verse 2, he gives the listener the impression that they are now together (“when I lay with you, there’s no place I’d rather be”). He shot his shot with this woman, and he “made” it. Pun intended. Thankfully, she felt the same as he did and has turned his desires into a reality. He never actually says “I love you” in the song, but merely saying, “I think I love you” is enough for now.
The goal of each episode of Press Rewind is to:
- Take a track by track look at the lyrical content of Prince’s discography
- Discuss my own interpretation of each song’s lyrics
- If submitted, discuss listener’s interpretations of each song’s lyrics
Thank you for joining me on this journey through Prince’s catalog!