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The Closer I Get To You

by

Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway



Songfacts®:  You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.

In 1972, Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway, who were good friends from their days at Howard University, recorded an album of duets containing the hit "Where Is The Love." Five years later, they reunited for this track, which is a much happier tale of a couple falling in love. (thanks, Mike - Santa Barbara, CA)
This song was not conceived as a duet. It was written by Reggie Lucas and James Mtume, who were members of Flack's touring band and played on Blue Lights in the Basement. They wrote the song between tours, and during the sessions for the album brought the song to Flack's producer Joe Ferla, who played it for Flack. Her manager David Franklin also worked with Hathaway, and decided to bring him in and turn the song into a duet. Hathaway suffered from severe bouts of depression, and hadn't worked with Flack in years. He was hospitalized at the time, and the producers had to get permission from the hospital to fly him out and come to the sessions. Hathaway died in 1979 of an apparent suicide.
Tom Jones recorded this with Stephanie Mills for his 1997 album I Need Your Lovin'. It was also recorded by Luther Vandross and Beyoncé for Luther's 2003 album Dance with My Father. (thanks, Stephanie - Denver, CO)
Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan sing this in the 2007 movie Rush Hour 3, with Tucker doing Roberta Flack's part.
Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway
More Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway songs
More duets

Comments (3):

On February 12th 1978, "The Closer I Get To You" by Roberta Flack and Donny Hathaway entered Billboard's Hot top 100 chart at position #86; and on May 7th it peaked at #2 (for 2 weeks) and spent 20 weeks on the Top 100 (and for 8 of those 20 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
And on March 26th, 1978 it reached #1 (for 2 weeks) on the Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
The first week it was at #2, the #1 record was "If I Can't Have You" by Yvonne Elliman; and for the 2nd week it was "With A Little Luck" by Wings that was in the top spot...
The second week "The Closer I Get To You" was at #2; Ms. Flack entered the Top 100 at #87 with "If Ever I See You Again" (eventually it would peak at #24)...
R.I.P. Mr. Hathaway (1945 - 1979) and Ms. Flack celebrated her 75th birthday two days ago on February 10th (2014).
- Barry, Sauquoit, NY
I love hard rock and, for the most part, I hate love songs. That being said, every time I hear this song, and also "Where is the love?", the window in the car goes up and I sing like Donnie Hathaway (alright, probably not). This is just one of those songs that crosses all boundaries. That is the sign of a great song. What a shame a great voice like Hathaway left us so soon.
- Matt, Boston, MA
Before writing this classic, percussionist James Mtume and guitarist Reggie Lucas were popular session musicians who were band members of jazz superstar Miles Davis during the mid-1970s. The team went on to produce three gold albums for Stephanie Mills (as well as her only top 10 pop hit "Never Knew love Like This Before"). Lucas went on to produce the majority of Madonna's first album, while Mtume scored a gold record with the sexually-charged "Juicy Fruit".
- John, Nashville, TN
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