Prince Tones Down the Bedroom Talk on ‘Call My Name’
Even Prince on auto-pilot can be pretty amazing Prince, as evidenced by 2004’s “Call My Name." This sumptuous slow jam was released as the second radio track from Prince’s comeback album Musicology, peaked inside the top 30 on Billboard’s R&B list, and won the artist a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Performance. And unlike with many artists who have passed their creative peak, these accolades and chart positions were all well-deserved.
Prior to the release of “Call My Name," Prince was the possessor of an exhaustive and thrilling library of slow jams. Starting with 1981’s “Do Me, Baby," the Purple Yoda got between the sheets with music fans and their lovers with classics like “Adore," “The Beautiful Ones," “Scandalous” and “Insatiable." “Call My Name” deserves a place on that list of bedroom classics, even if by 2004 Prince was a more reserved traditionalist. With the mention of a “bridal path door” in the song’s first verse, it becomes clear that 21st century Prince needed to put a ring on it before taking you to the Paisley Park boudoir.
According to Prince Vault, "Call My Name" was probably recorded in 2003 or early 2004, a few years into his marriage to Manuela Testolini, who he’d met while she was working for his Love4OneAnother charity. The song’s marriage-themed lyrics, not to mention the second verse’s mentions of war -- the U.S. invaded Iraq in March 2003 -- seem to confirm that hypothesis. Of course, given the fact that Prince was still writing more graphic love songs when married to his first wife Mayte Garcia, it’s also easy to ascribe “Call My Name”’s tamer vibe to his official conversion to the Jehovah’s Witness faith.
In an odd irony, the song features backing vocals by Stokley Williams of Mint Condition. Williams signed on to the Revolution's 2017 tour, singing lead on a handful of the songs, including "1999," "Uptown," "D.M.S.R" and "Kiss."
If nothing else, “Call My Name” is exceptional for the fact that Prince goes through his entire library of grunts, coos and moans in four minutes. This put listeners who’d jumped off the purple train in the previous half-decade on notice that even if the material was no longer as innovative as it was during Prince’s heyday, that voice was still capable of moving mountains...and was also still a welcome presence between the sheets-wedding ring or no.
Prince: 40 Years of Photographs, 1977-2016