Joe Sample and Lalah Hathaway | The Song Lives On

I’ve had a pretty varied working career. I’ve managed to stay away from fast food, but have managed to work for a Rent-A-Center, various call centers, a college bookstore, and even selling cell phones. I’ve always maintained that one of my favorite jobs was when I worked for a record store. This CD and subject of this Turn Yo’ Headphones Up entry is a prime reason why. One of the perks about the job was being able to pick your playlist for the portion of the day that you work. Now, while I don’t remember exactly who put me onto this, I remember being taken completely by it.

Sure, we know the name Hathaway and yes, there is blood relation there as Lalah is Donny Hathaway’s daughter. Her mother is also a classically trained singer so the voice is in the genes. Joe Sample is the jazz icon that founded the Jazz Crusaders. Neither of these artists are unknowns and have collectively put out 22 albums, so this article isn’t about putting you onto who they are, but rather, the amazing CD they collaborated on which was one of the best selling albums from either artist.

This project was released in 1999 and featured 12 songs. The sound was unmistakably jazzy and soulful with a depth of production rarely seen in todays music. Songs such as “When The World Turns Blue”, my favorite on the album, manages to seamlessly fuse the jazz influence with the soulful lyrics sung by Lalah’s molasses sweet and thick voice. “When the world turns blue / somewhere after you / I’ll just have to handle it, with all I know how to do / I’ll write a song about you / how love can’t live without you / how every place you touch me made me feel new / And when we are gone / the song will live on / some stranger will hear and will say this is just how I feel, every line, every moment is true.” This is nothing but poetry. Another example of the albums greatness is “When Your Life Was Low.” “Always remember my friend / the world will change again / and you may have to come back / through everywhere you’ve been / When you’re life was low / you had nowhere to go / people turned their backs on you / and everybody said that you were through / I took you in, I made you strong again / put you back together out of all the dreams you left along the way / you left me shining. / Now you’re doing well / from stories I hear tell / you own the world again / everyones your friend / although I never hear from you, still it’s nice to know / you used to love me so, when your life was low”.  This is typical of the thought process, mood, and sentiment of the music on this album. It’s full of stories that read like parables full of lessons and information that promote active listening and not just a passive experience. Don’t get it wrong though, there are plenty of instrumental jazz songs on the album such as the title track “The Song Lives On”, “Living In Blue”, and “Bitter Sweet”.

There is narry a dull moment on this album and if you’re in the market for good music, grab a copy…but you can’t have any of my 3. Be sure to Turn Yo’ Headphones Up when you press play.

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