On a cold January night in 1979, Donny Hathaway unhinged the window in his Essex House hotel room and leapt to his death. There was no note, no phone call. No plea for help.

In the years leading up to this fateful moment, Hathaway had been tormented by depression and schizophrenia. He claimed nefarious machines had been attached to his brain in order to steal his music. Just a year earlier though, Hathaway had recorded the duet with Roberta Flack that would become his most well-known song, “The Closer I Get To You.” Hathaway, whose early successes were matched by long dry-spells in the mid-’70s, appeared to finally be on the up-and-up.

Much has been written on his stellar talent and incalculable influence, so I will simply leave you with the music. This is my favorite track from the 1972 live album These Songs For You (Live!). He’s brilliant, his band is brilliant, the song is brilliant. It just doesn’t get any better.

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