Friday, May 15, 2009

Sinking Radio: Donny Hathaway's "Jealous Guy"

Here’s my weekly reminder to tune in to Sinking Radio on Little Radio today from Noon to 2:00 PM PST.

Each week the show features an official You Set the Scene pick. My pick for today’s show is Donny Hathaway’s “Jealous Guy.” The John Lennon cover comes from Hathaway’s 1972 Live album. At this point, everybody from Elliott Smith to Jeff Tweedy to the Deftones to Collective Soul to the Black Crowes to the Faces to Roxy Music to Jose Feliciano has covered the track, but it must have been a pretty radical choice for a black soul singer like Hathaway do it so soon after Lennon released it.

The Live record chronicles Hathaway’s shows at the Troubadour in West Hollywood and the Bitter End in New York. It’s one of those extremely rare live records (I feel the same way about the Descendents) that’s actually better than the artist’s studio recordings. In this case, Hathaway’s soulfulness pours through the speakers and the crowd’s intense response makes you so jealous of the people that were there. Man, that voice will give you the chills.

In a just world, Hathaway would be a household name like Stevie Wonder or Marvin Gaye. He’s not. After a long struggle with depression, Hathaway committed suicide in 1979 by jumping out of a 15th story window. Luckily for us, he left behind a great legacy of music. Original vinyl copies of this record are pretty tough to come by, but last time I was at Amoeba, I noticed that it’s been reissued. I highly recommend you pick it up. It's the type of thing that will probably go in and out of print for a long time.

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