Donny Hathaway — In The Ghetto

By on January 18, 2019

Donny Hathaway – LETHAL SOUL MUSIC

It was the early 70’s – maybe 1972. I was about 12.  My mom was in her late 40’s and my parents played the hell out of Donny Hathaway ’s album, Everything Is Everything.  Saturday nights, Dad would finish eating dinner and he’d start spinning records on the Magnavox console in the corner.  “In the Ghetto (Part 1)” was on heavy rotation that summer.  Friends stopped by for a lime daiquiri or two; an occupied ashtray sat in the center of the coffee table; The echo of Mrs. Pickens laughing with my mom about her crazy boss and what “that boy” got into at school today still rings in my ears.

Head-bopping, booty-shaking and talking about dealing with life as it came.  I can still smell the shrimp frying and all the doors kept open to keep the house fresh…. two cars in the driveway turned into 3 or 4, and sometimes more.  I would taste the jigger glass and feign being drunk for laughs. It was a great time for music exposure and watching my parents & their friends enjoy themselves is a memory I cherish.

This track is filled with so much funk and soul…even for those who have never heard of Donny Hathaway, it’s like a spoonful of honey. This tune takes you “there” with its empowering vocal, catchy melody, and perfect harmonies.

Curtis Mayfield gave Hathaway his first break when he was hired to write and arrange for Mayfield’s Curtom Records label in Chicago. In early 1970, Rolling Stone magazine “marked Hathaway as a major new force in soul music” however, Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye overshadowed his accomplishments and he’s never gotten the recognition many think he should have.

Donny cut his own Part 2 short with his tragic suicide. 40 years ago, this month, at the height of his career, Donny Hathaway jumped to his death from the 15th floor of Manhattan’s luxury hotel Essex House in New York City. His death, at the age of 33, was ruled a suicide and linked to a diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia.

The baby’s voice you hear on this record belongs to Donny’s daughter, Lalah Hathaway, an artist in her own right and carrying on the family tradition of making great music. You can check her out here:


Suicide is a serious issue and we stress the importance of reaching out and seeking help if you are having suicidal thoughts.



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