A. Prince gave a rare interview in 1999 when he spoke with Larry King on CNN. More surprisingly, he explained the meaning behind this song. Said Prince: “We were sitting around watching a special (Nostrodamus: Man Who Saw Tomorrow) about 1999, and a lot of people were talking about the year and speculating on what was going to happen. And I just found it real ironic how everyone that was around me whom I thought to be very optimistic people were dreading those days, and I always knew I’d be cool. I never felt like this was going to be a rough time for me. I knew that there were going to be rough times for the Earth because of this system is based in entropy, and it’s pretty much headed in a certain direction. So I just wanted to write something that gave hope, and what I find is people listen to it. And no matter where we are in the world, I always get the same type of response from them.”
Prince re-recorded this song in 1998 after leaving Warner Bros. Records, who retained rights to the original recording. Prince had serious beef with Warner Brothers when he found out they owned his masters, so he re-recorded this song in an attempt to keep them from profiting from the original version as the titular year approached. The new version reached #40 US at the beginning of 1999.
Following Prince’s death, “1999” re-charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at #27, making it the first song to reach the Top 40 in three different decades (’80s, ’90s, ’10s).