Sunday, January 13, 2019

Don't Let The Spin Get You Down

Donny Hathaway : Jealous Guy (live)

On January 13, 1979, Grammy winning R+B singer, composer and musician  Donny Hathaway plunged to his death from the 15th floor of the Essex House hotel in New York City. Hathaway's struggles with depression, schizophrenia and his own sexuality wreaked havoc on his life and his relationships. Earlier that day Hathaway and his longtime Howard University friend Roberta Flack recorded a pair of duets, "Back Together Again" and the Stevie Wonder/Eric Mercury penned "You Are My Heaven". They had dinner that night at Flack's apartment in the Dakota. When he returned to his Essex House room, Hathaway removed a window and made the leap that would end his life.

The songs Hathaway recorded with Flack are the best known. "Where Is The Love" from their 1972 collaboration Roberta Flack + Donny Hathaway topped the R+B charts and peaked at US#5. "The Closer I Get To You", recorded when Hathaway was suffering from bouts of clinical depression, was an even bigger hit, peaking at US#2.

Hathaway's solo albums offer real treasures. 1970's Everything is Everything has a seven minute jam called "The Ghetto", which Hathaway would expand on his must-own 1972 live album. Donny Hathaway Live also features his soulful cover of John Lennon's "Jealous Guy". 

1973's Extension of a Man has "Someday We'll All Be Free". Lyricist Edward Howard had written the song especially for his troubled friend who cried when he heard the playback.

"What was going through my mind at the time was Donny, because Donny was a very troubled person. I hoped that at some point he would be released from all that he was going through. There was nothing I could do but write something that might be encouraging for him." 

Hang onto the world as it spins, around. 
Just don't let the spin get you down. 
Things are moving fast. 
Hold on tight and you will last.

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