Let's Stay Together

Album: Let's Stay Together (1972)
Charted: 7 1
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  • This song is about an unconditional love where you are determined to stick it out through good times and bad. It's a very popular wedding song.
  • Al Green wrote the lyrics to this song; the music was written by Al Jackson Jr., and Willie Mitchell. Jackson is a legendary soul drummer who recorded with Booker T. & the MG's; Mitchell was Green's producer. Green did about 100 takes before he got one he liked, and even then he wasn't sure the song was any good. It was Mitchell who set him straight, telling him it "had magic on it."
  • This has appeared in such movies as The Ladies' Man, On the Line, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, and Munich. Perhaps the most famous cinematic use of the song was in the scene from the film Pulp Fiction, where it is playing in the background. It's on the stereo in the bar, where we first confront Bruce Willis' poker face while Ving Rhames gives him the "pride only hurts" speech. It's a relatively quiet scene, so the song really has a chance to set the mood.
  • According to Rolling Stone magazine's Top 500 songs, after Willie Mitchell gave Al Green a rough mix of a tune he and drummer Al Jackson had developed, Green wrote the lyrics in 5 minutes. However, Green didn't want to record the song and for two days he argued with Willie Mitchell before finally agreeing to cut it.
  • Tina Turner's 1983 cover of this song revitalized her career, returning her to the charts in both the UK and US for the first time for over a decade. After divorcing Ike Turner in 1976 she jumped on the disco trend with solo albums in 1978 and 1979 that went nowhere. In 1982, she released a cover of The Temptations "Ball Of Confusion" that was produced by the B.E.F. production team, which comprises Heaven 17 members Martyn Ware and Ian Craig Marsh. Turner and her manager Roger Davies liked this direction and enlisted them for more help.

    In our interview with Martyn Ware, he recalled: "They said, 'Would you be interested in writing a song for Private Dancer?' And I said, 'Well, we don't really write for other people.' We felt a bit self-conscious because we thought that what we did was our particular thing. It wasn't just an arrogance thing; it was, like, 'God, how would we start writing a song for Tina Turner?' Seriously. She was a legend in our eyes. I said, 'Well, I don't really feel confident with that, but I really would like to do a cover version, or a couple of cover versions, so we ended up drawing up a shortlist."

    "She was staying in London at the time," Ware continued, "and the one track I really wanted to do with her was 'Let's Stay Together' because I thought she had turned her back a little bit on her soul roots - she clearly wanted to be a rock singer. I said, 'Look, as far as I'm concerned Tina, you are still one of the greatest soul singers in the world.' And I said, 'What were your influences when you were growing up?' And she said, 'Otis Redding, Sam Cooke.' And I said, 'How would you feel about "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green?' And she jumped at the idea."

    Turner had just signed to Capitol Records, which released her version of "Let's Stay Together" in the UK. With backing vocals by Glenn Gregory and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 and a modern production touch supplied by B.E.F., the song took off, rising to #6 in December 1983. Issued in the US, the song became a favorite in New York dance clubs and rose to #26 in March 1984. After it hit in the UK, Capitol commissioned a full album, giving Turner two weeks to record what became Private Dancer, which returned Turner to stardom.
  • This was used in a television commercial for Tide laundry detergent. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Bertrand - Paris, France
  • After explaining how he idolized Al Green growing up in Tennessee, Justin Timberlake sang this with the Reverend at the Grammy awards in 2009 with Boyz II Men and Keith Urban joining in the song. This performance was a last-minute addition to the show, as Rihanna and Chris Brown, who were both scheduled to perform, canceled after an altercation the night before.
  • Barack Obama sang a couple of lines of the song during an appearance on January 19, 2012 at the Apollo Theater in Harlem for a fund-raising event. Al Green was the opening act and as the American president took to the stage, he noted the soul legend's presence in the audience and surprised his staffers close by with an impromptu spot of crooning. "Those guys didn't think I would do it," he joked. "I told you I was going to do it. The Sandman did not come out."

    It wouldn't be the last time Obama sang in public during his term: In 2015 he sang part of "Amazing Grace" when he delivered the eulogy for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, who was killed by a gunman at his church.
  • When the track at was cut at Royal, Mitchell brought in a group of neighborhood winos who used to linger outside the studio, to serve as Green's audience. "Willie wanted Al to have people here," recalled the song's organist Charles Hodges to Mojo magazine. "Sometimes, when you sing about something, if you look at people, you can relate with the song a little more compassionately. You'd be surprised what you can project from that. You feed on what you're looking at."
  • This song almost wasn't released because Al Green hated the "thin" sound of his falsetto on it. Producer Willie Mitchell remembered: "The only fight I ever had with him was about 'Let's Stay Together,' because he thought 'Let's Stay Together' was not a hit."
  • This song also spent nine straight weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot Soul Singles chart.
  • When Michelle Williams of Destiny's Child was asked to contribute a cover of her favorite song for a 2005 Gap campaign, she chose this tune. That same year, her rendition was used in the movie Roll Bounce and was included on the soundtrack album.
  • Al Green sang this during a 1999 appearance on Ally McBeal in the episode "Seeing Green."

    The song was also used in these TV shows:

    Bull ("Separate Together" - 2019)
    Hawaii Five-0 ("Pono Kaulike" - 2015)
    Being Erica ("Please, Please Tell Me Now" - 2011)
    The Big Bang Theory ("The Russian Rocket Reaction" - 2011)
    Parks and Recreation ("Road Trip" - 2011)
    Cold Case ("The Runner" - 2003)

Comments: 12

  • Donna from Tinley ParkLuv ya al wonderful song and true you'd never do that to me would you babe!
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI love to hear Reverend Al testify with songs like this.
  • Markantney from BiloxiApr 2015, Though this is his biggest hit and an alltime Fav, this site should also add one his OTHER big hits to the list. His Remake of the Bee Gee's "How Can You Mend a Broken Heart."

    Al sang that Great Pop Song of the Bee Gees and turned it into a Soul Opus.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn March 26th 1972, Isaac Hayes' covered version of "Let's Stay Together" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #67; four weeks later on April 23rd, 1972 it would peak at #48 {for 2 weeks} and spent 7 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #25 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Eight days earlier on March 18th Al Green's original version was at #22 on the Top 100 and that was also its last day on the chart...
    Isaac Lee Hayes, Jr. passed away on August 10th, 2008 at the age of 65...
    May he R.I.P.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 19th 1972, Al Green performed "Let's Stay Together" on the syndicated TV program 'Soul Train'...
    At the time it was at #2 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and thirteen days earlier on February 6th it peaked at #1 {for 1 week} and spent 16 weeks on the Top 100...
    And on January 2nd, 1972 it reached #1 {for 9 weeks} on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Between 1967 and 2008 he had thirty-six records on the Billboard’s R&B Singles chart, and sixteen made the Top 10 with six reached #1; his five others were "I'm Still in Love with You" {1972}, "You Ought to Be with Me" {1972}, "Livin' for You" {1973}, "L-O-V-E (Love)" {1975}, and "Full of Fire" {1975}...
    Plus he had four 'just misses' when he had four other records peak at #2 on the R&B Singles chart...
    R.I.P. Don Cornelius {1936 - 2012} and the Reverend Al will celebrate his 69 birthday in two months on April 13th {2015}.
  • Marlene from Montreal, QcTina Turner's version is great. I was never a huge fan of hers but she did justice to that song with a very sensual, understated version.
  • Nicole from Plymouth, MaClearly one of the best songs ever written. Al Green is the man.
  • Martin from Los Angeles, CaAl whispers the song title, "Let's Stay Together"
  • Dave from Van Nuys, CaWhat are the words that are whispered at the beginning of this song??
  • Jeff from Austin, Txeasily one of the best vocal performances ever
  • Eddie from Natchez, MsThanks for the timeless classic.
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaOne of Al Greens best in my opinion (maybe all time best)
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