Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Percussion Side of Town

Back in the day, my old friend Kyle and I used to spend hours in bars, feeding jukeboxes and playing one-on-one Tough Music Trivia.

Some examples...
I’ll name the drummer. You name the band. First one to miss buys the next round.
Sib Hashian...

I’ll name the Badfinger member. You name the year he committed suicide. An extra point if you can name the location and the method.

I’ll name The Pretenders member. You name the year he died of a drug overdose.

Fleetwood Mac has had a revolving list of members, but almost always only a total of five at one time. Name all 16 total members.

I'll name the record label. You tell me the artists that have been signed to it.
Apple Records...Swan Song...A&M...

We were constantly searching for the most arcane trivia to throw out.


Visual Aide:

Besides Badfinger, Mary Hopkin was one of the Beatles's first artists signed to Apple Records. Here is Mary Hopkin's Those Were The Days.


My point is that Kyle and I were constantly challenging each other toward learning about new artists - and sharing the knowledge.

My favorite artist that he introduced me to is Donny Hathaway.

Today, I was finalizing my February 2011 CD - my once monthly CD compilation that I create and make a copy for Carlos. When I was telling him the playlist, he remarked that I had another Donny Hathaway song on it and that I should blog about the reason for that.

So here we are.

Let's start at the beginning - and then skip around. Donny Hathaway's first hit was the Billboard 100 #87, Billboard R&B #23 song The Ghetto Part 1. Here is the live version of the Ghetto (all the parts) originally from his CD These Songs For You, Live.

The title of this post comes from that song.

His biggest hit was with Roberta Flack - The Closer I Get To You, reaching Billboard 100 #2, Billboard R&B #1.

You may know best Donny Hathaway for the Christmas standard This Christmas. The song, released in 1970, has become a holiday staple and is often used in movies, television and in advertising. This Christmas has been covered by numerous artists including The Whispers, Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, The Four Tops, Stevie Wonder, Chicago, Harry Connick, Jr., *NSYNC, and Gloria Estefan.

I remember first playing Carlos some Donny Hathaway. His immediate reaction was that he sounded like that guy who sang the theme to Maude. Good ear, Carlos: That is indeed Donny Hathaway too.

If you want an overview of Donny Hathaway, go with 1990's A Donny Hathaway Collection. Follow that link to a sample of all of his hits.

If you want to jump right in, I strongly recommend his 1973 studio album Extension of a Man or any of his numerous live releases.

Here is his song Flying Easy from that CD.


On January 13, 1979, Donny Hathaway killed himself by jumping out of his 15th-floor room in New York's Essex House hotel.