Beyoncé’s Version of “Before I Let Go” Is a Classic in Its Own Right
A year ago, Beyoncé threw headlined Coachella, staging a celebration of her magnanimous career, one which lead her to become the first-ever black woman to sit atop the festival bill. Revisiting her set, it still gives off goosebumps, a perfect melding of the history of black music across decades, regions, and countries and her own varied discography. By incorporating black music of all kinds—from marching bands to New Orleans bounce to negro spirituals to reggae to soul music to Houston screw—Beyoncé offered a reminder that she is an artist for every kind of person.
Last night, Beyoncé released the live album HOMECOMING, an audio version of her show-stopping Coachella set, timed with the release of her Netflix documentary on the show. Hearing the audio of the concert would’ve been good enough by itself but as a bonus she included a new song, a Tay Keith-produced reimagining of Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let Go,” a perfect cap on the live record and a four minute tribute to that legendary show.
The remixed song sees her backed by horns sampled from the New Orleans staple “Get Ready, Ready” by D.J. Jubilee, breathing new life into the classic Beverly & Maze party record. That might seem like a sacrilegious thing to say about an already lively record, but Beyoncé’s rendition carries a pulse and energy that is all its own, full of a seductive exuberance and vibrancy.
The marching band accompaniment has all of that coursing through its veins, too. The band’s horns mimic a typical beat switch with the way they veer between the sound of “Before I Let Go” at one moment and Cameo’s “Candy” the next, an unexpected combo that fits together beautifully. With one song, Beyoncé makes yet another argument for her Coachella performance being one for the ages, crisscrossing the classic sounds of black music, both new and old, the ultimate pop star in the middle of it all.