Throwback Thursday: Janet Jackson – “Got ’til It’s Gone” (featuring Q-Tip & Joni Mitchell)
In September of ’97, Janet Jackson released “Got ’til It’s Gone,” the lead single from her sixth studio album, The Velvet Rope. The song features Q-Tip and Joni Mitchell — the former provides a verse and one of the greatest ad libs ever (“Joni Mitchell never lies!”), while the latter provides the chorus (in the form of a loop from her signature song, “Big Yellow Taxi”).
It’s easy to think that “Got ’til It’s Gone” only borrows from “Big Yellow Taxi” because Joni is featured and shouted out on the track, but it isn’t. In fact, it is arguably the secondary sample.
British singer Des’ree has a song called “Feel So High,” and its verses are almost a note-for-note match to “Got ’til It’s Gone.” As you can imagine, Des’ree sued and won, receiving 25% of the song’s royalties.
“Got ’til It’s Gone” never charted in the States because it was ineligible under Billboard’s rules at the time, but it cracked the top in the UK and across Europe. The song is definitely as far away from “pop” as Janet has ever gone, and as you can imagine, the critics loved it. A guest appearance by critic darling Joni Mitchell didn’t hurt either.
When “Got ’til It’s Gone” first dropped, I was probably too young to appreciate it, and in many ways, my taste in music tends to be diametrically opposed to your average critic of the ’90s. Not to mention, I was accustomed to a Janet who mainly gave us up-tempo goodness, so this was quite the aberration.
Twenty-two years later, however, I am proud to say that I fully understand the greatness of this song.