Why Can't We Live Together  

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Tell me why? Tell me why? Tell me why? Umm, why can't we live together?

--"Why Can't We Live Together" (1972) by Timmy Thomas

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Why Can't We Live Together (1972) is a song by Timmy Thomas from the album Why Can't We Live Together known for its early use of drum machine technology.

"Hotline Bling" (2015) by Drake heavily samples the song.



The song is notable for being recorded in mono; for Thomas's passionate, soulful vocal and its sparse, stripped-down production, featuring a Lowrey organ and the mambo preset from the Lowrey AR-4 (Automatic Rhythm) drum machine.

Thomas first sang it as an improvised number on his own nightclub, the "Denisse Lounge". Afterwards, as the audience loved it, with the help of his employees, he did write it. So, Timmy recorded a demo at Dukoff Recording Studios in North Miami, Florida, with Bill Borkan acting as sound engineer. The single short version got more airplay, because the longer instrumental Coda, was considered by many radio stations, to be more closer to Jazz.

TK Records staff producer Steve Alaimo listened to the demo of the song and was going to re-cut it with a full band, but then decided the song was already finished the way it was. Released as a single in late 1972, the song became a major hit in the U.S. during the early part of 1973, reaching the number one spot on the R&B chart, number three on the Billboard Pop Singles and eventually selling over two million copies. It was also a hit in the UK as well, peaking at #12. There was a re-release on 7" and 12" in 1979, with a live version as B-side on the 7" European release.

Later, the song has been covered by many artists, including Mike Anthony (1982), Joan Osborne, Steve Winwood (2003) and Maria Muldaur (2009). In 1990, a "Stand Up For Love" re-recording of the song was done by Thomas. Mike Anthony's version knew a big success in Europe, released as a single, during summer '82, Belgian radio stations, among others, playing often the song during this time.

Santana on "Live at Montreux" plays the cover of "Why Can't We Live Together" (1996 & 2004). British jazz-pop band Sade included a cover of "Why Can't We Live Together" on their 1984 released debut album Diamond Life. Lucky Peterson covered the song in the album Lucky Peterson, 1999.

Later recorded versions

The song has been covered by many artists, including:


  • Mike Anthony, an American DJ/producer based in Belgium at the time, recorded his discofied version of the song in early 1982 but while it had reached the Belgian and Dutch charts, he was sued by the owners of the original Timmy Thomas recording for using elements from the original recording. A judge ordered a re-recording of the song with all the original parts removed. This ruling marked one of the first court cases in which the use of original samples in new recordings played a role, as a precursor to the many court cases in the 1990s and 2000s.
  • In 2015, Canadian rapper Drake released "Hotline Bling", which heavily samples the song.

See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Why Can't We Live Together" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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