Donny Hathaway: Live

This post is in the theme “Constructing an identity through media”. Read the first.

October 15, New York: There was a period in our lives in which my dear friend Aaron Kyle and I passed many nights in the Short Stop in Echo Park. Part cop bar, part Dodgers bar, part hipster mecca, the Short Stop offered Pabst Blue Ribbon for a buck-fifty at happy hour, and we would find ourselves there early on a weekday night after work (and then, quite to our surprise, late on that same weekday night). It was one of those nights that we initiated “Music Exchange”.

It began chiefly because I realized Aaron had never listened to Sticky Fingers by the Rolling Stones. (Aaron hated the Stones.) And God knows how much music I’d never heard; Aaron was the musician between us. We agreed to exchange five albums every week— on burned CD. We were diligent about it and kept up the practice for probably a full year. Some of the best music in my collection came from Music Exchange… and I like to think I shared some good stuff with Aaron, too. He still hates the Stones, but he begrudgingly acknowledges that Sticky Fingers is a great album.

One the absolute pearls of the bounty of Aaron Kyle was Donny Hathaway Live. Soul was a weak point in my musical knowledge and Aaron dedicated multiple weeks to catching me up. They were all fantastic, but man, Donny Hathaway? This album? Whoadang. The Live album ruined me for his studio albums, and there’s not a ton of live material, so it’s me and this album, forever. Every song is an incredible jam. The organs are so good. And Donny Hathaway is just incredible.

My favorite from Live is “You’ve Got a Friend”. So favorite that I danced with my mother to this song at our wedding. I chose the live version— even though it plays more poorly through speakers— because the energy is just so good. The whole crowd behind Donny singing: “Winter, spring, summer, or fall… / All you got to do is call”. And that was my mom and my wife and both of our families, everyone’s arms interlaced and singing at the tops of our lungs… “All you got to do is call.”

Thank you, Aaron Kyle, for Donny Hathaway, for this version of “You’ve Got a Friend”, and for the absolute betterment of my musical knowledge.

Get yourself Donny Hathway Live and sing along at the top of your lungs.

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