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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 18, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Blogs

“There’s nothing you can teach me…

%image_alt% …that I can’t learn from Mr. Hathaway.” Amy  Winehouse said that. But this isn’t about Amy “Cross-your-fingers-she-can-get-it-together-for-the-rumored-next-album-with-?uestlove” Winehouse. Out of all the great soul singers of the late ’60s and early ’70s who might reasonably stand as an inspiring alternative to drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation, Amy chose Donny Hathaway. If you have ever heard him, you might begin to suspect why. He had his first hit with “The Ghetto, Pt. 1) in 1969. Just 10 years later he died of an apparent suicide. Hathaway lead a troubled life, suffering from depression and paranoid schizophrenia, conditions no doubt exacerbated by his status as both a popular black artist and a performer in an industry dominated by white executives.

“A Song for You,” captures all the best elements of Donny Hathaway’s artistic career: impressionistic piano, expressive, tender vocals, powerful, emotive lyrics, and a swelling flood of hope after paying witness to profound despair. Whether that despair is racism, depression, loneliness, poor mental health Donny’s music seems capable of that rescue, of seeing you and not belittling your pain, but still offering you a glimpse of something different. By the time he sings  “But now I’m so much better” you could cry, but then he goes on “and if my words don’t come together/Listen to the melody cause my love is in there hiding” followed by a falling piano arpeggio that makes your heart sink with it.  The next verses are harder, like he fought for them. He nearly shouts “I love you for in my life” and by that you know it’s true.

The live version is best and can be found on the live compilation These Songs for You. Until you get it: A song for you…

…that I can’t learn from Mr. Hathaway.” Amy  Winehouse said that. But this isn’t about Amy “Cross-your-fingers-she-can-get-it-together-for-the-rumored-next-album-with-?uestlove” Winehouse. Out of all the great soul singers of the late ’60s and early ’70s who might reasonably stand as an inspiring alternative to drug and/or alcohol rehabilitation, Amy chose Donny Hathaway. If you have ever heard him,