Album: Winelight (1980)
Charted: 34 2
  • This smooth, soulful favorite expresses a deep connection between a couple: whatever happens, they can get through it together. It was a huge hit when it was released in 1980, but has endured as a timeless classic, played at many weddings and other events to indicate a lasting bond.
  • This song is a collaboration between the renowned jazz saxophone player Grover Washington, Jr. and the mighty soul singer Bill Withers. Washington crossed over in the '70s with a cover of "Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)" and an original song called "Mister Magic," both instrumentals. For "Just The Two Of Us," he brought in Withers to sing and to add lyrics - Withers was known for his hits "Lean On Me" and "Ain't No Sunshine." In a Songfacts interview with Withers, he explained:

    "I'm a little snobbish about words, so they sent me this song and said, 'We want to do this with Grover, would you consider singing it?' I said, 'Yeah, if you'll let me go in and try to dress these words up a little bit.' Everybody that knows me is kind of used to me that way. I probably threw in the stuff like the crystal raindrops. The 'Just The Two Of Us' thing was already written. It was trying to put a tuxedo on it. I didn't like what was said leading up to 'Just The Two Of Us.'"
  • Grover Washington, Jr. wrote this with his musical partner Bill Salter before Withers added lyrics. It was produced by Ralph MacDonald, a percussionist who played on many of Washington's tracks. MacDonald was friends with Withers and made the connection.
  • When Withers went in to record his vocals, it was the first time he met Washington. They were rarely together when they recorded the song, and they never got to know each other very well (Washington died of a heart attack in 1999 at 56). Withers admired Washington because Grover did the first cover version of any song he'd written - an instrumental version of "Ain't No Sunshine" that appeared on his first album. Since then, hundreds of artists have covered Withers' songs.
  • This appeared on Grover Washington, Jr.'s album and was initially credited just to him. Later pressings of the single made it clear that Withers was the vocalist.
  • Will Smith did a rap version on his 1997 album Big Willie Style, turning it into a song about a father and son. At the time his first son Trey, who appears in the video, was five years old. By the time the song peaked at #20 in October 1998, Smith had a second son, Jaden.

    This reworking was the basis for the "Dr. Evil Mix" in the 1999 movie Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me, where Dr. Evil (Mike Myers) sings it with lyrics about his love for Mini-Me (Verne Troyer).
  • A memorable media use of this song is in the 2019 episode of The Neighborhood, "Welcome to the Vow Renewal," where Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer) and his wife Tina (Tichina Arnold) sing it to each other. The song was also used in the 2001 movie Bandits, in the 1981 WKRP in Cincinnati episode "Nothing to Fear But...," and on The Simpsons in the 2013 episode "Changing of the Guardian."

Comments: 11

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1981 {April 26th} "Just The Two of Us" by Grover Washington, Jr. {featuring Bill Withers} peaked at #2 {for 3 weeks} on Billboard's Top 100* chart, for it's first two weeks at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Morning Train (Nine to Five)" by Sheena Easton, and for it's third week at #2, "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes was in the top spot...
    "Just The Two of Us" " also reached #2 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart and #3 on Billboard's Hot Soul Singles chart...
    Grover Washington, Jr. had two other Top 100 records, "Mister Magic" {#54 in 1975} and "Be Mine (Tonight)" {#92 in 1982}...
    Sadly, Grover Washington Jr. passed away at the young age of 56 on December 17th, 1999 {heart attack}...
    May he R.I.P.
    * And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of the Top 10 on April 26th, 1981:
    At #3. "Being With You" by Smokey Robinson
    #4. "Angel of The Morning" by Juice Newton
    #5. "Kiss On My List" by Daryl Hall and John Oates
    #6. "Rapture" by Blondie
    #7. "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes
    #8. "While You See A Chance" by Steve Winwood
    #9. "Living Inside Myself" by Gino Vannelli
    #10. "I Can't Stand It" by Eric Clapton and His Band
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenSteve from Ottawa: According the liner notes from "Winelight," the steel drums were played by Robert Greenidge.
  • Seventhmist from 7th HeavenI never liked the fact that Washington got sole radio credit for this. The song would have been as great with a different saxophonist, but not with a different singer.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 8th 1981, "Just The Two of Us" by Grover Washington, Jr. (with Bill Withers) entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at #83; and on April 26th it peaked at #2 (for 3 weeks) and spent almost a half-year on the Top 100 (24 weeks, and for 11 of those 24 weeks it was on the Top 10)...
    It reached #3 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    The song won the Grammy Award in 1982 for 'Best R&B Song'...
    The first two weeks it was at #2 on the Top 100 the #1 record was "Morning Train (Nine To Five)" by Sheena Easton and during its third week at #2 it was "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes that was at the top spot...
    R.I.P. Mr. Washington (1943 - 1999) and Mr. Withers will celebrate his 76th birthday in five months on July 4th (2014).
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainTo Steve...
    Sorry, you were talking about steel drums and not drums.
  • Laurent from Manama, BahrainTo Steve, Ottawa

    If you are talking about the studio version, the drummer is very likely to be the legendary Steve Gadd. Gadd is one of the most highly regarded and influencial drummer in history. He's the one playing, amongst many other tracks, on Paul Simon's "50 Ways To Leave Your Lover" or Barbra Steisand's "Woman In Love". Gadd has played with everyone...Frank Sinatra, George Benson, Chick Corea, Marc Cohn, James Taylor, Eric Clapton...
  • Tanya from La Verne, CaA great collaboration between too great musicians!
  • Sylvia Callender-car from Atlanta, GaThis song was written to promote "The Republic of Trinidad & Tobago" the home of the only musical invention on the 20th century - The Steel Pan that you hear in the background. It was very popular in the home of my birth in the 80's when evrything was going well.
  • Chris from El Monte, CaI thought it was Othello Molineaux playing steel pans, but that's Robert Greenidge. If you'd like to hear some great playing of steel pans, Check out "Opus Pocus" (by Jaco Pastorius, on Jaco Pastorius), and also "The Chicken" by Jaco Pastorius (well, actually, it's a PeeWee Ellis tune), on Jaco's "Invitation" album. I'd recommend "The Chicken" more than anything... Othello blew my mind with the solo in that.
  • Steve from Ottawa, CanadaThe extended version of this song has a killer steel drum solo in it..it's so perfect! one of my favourite popular music solos ever .. shame they cut it from the radio edit. Does anyone know who was the performer?
  • Jo-c from Lima, PeruGreat piano and saxophone. I love this song.
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