Most of Beyoncé’s music in “Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé,” which debuted on Netflix early Thursday morning, is from the Coachella performance it documents. But for anyone who sticks around for all two hours and 17 minutes, or fast-forwards right to the end, there’s a nice surprise under the end credits: an apparently brand new cover of “Before I Let Go,” a hit for Frankie Beverly and Maze in 1981.
Perhaps we should say semi-hit: “Before I Let Go” did not make the top 10 on any chart; even in the R&B format, it peaked at No. 13. But it stuck around that Beyoncé and Jay-Z were all seen doing “the electric slide” to the oldie at a family gathering, in a video that Tina Knowles Lawson briefly put on her Instagram page and then took down in December 2017.
That wasn’t Beyoncé’s first connection to the tune. All the way back in 1997, Destiny’s Child recorded a version of the song that was never released, although it came to be widely bootlegged years later, after the group had broken up.
When word began to leak that “Before I Let Go” was featured in the new film, some wondered if it was the Destiny’s Child version, finally unvaulted. That’s not the case: it features the unmistakable marching-band accompaniment found in the live performances in “Homecoming,” transposed to the studio.
The song appears as the second-to-last track on “Homecoming: The Live Album,” which was released on streaming services at the same time as the documentary.