Why Can't We Live Together

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"Why Can't We Live Together"
Single by Timmy Thomas
from the album Why Can't We Live Together
B-side "Funky Me"
Released 1972
Format Vinyl Record (45 RPM)
Genre R&B
Length 3:30 (single version)
4:50 (album version)
Label Glades/TK Records
Writer(s) Timmy Thomas
Producer(s) Timmy Thomas

Why Can't We Live Together is a song by Timmy Thomas from the album Why Can't We Live Together. The song is notable for its sparse, stripped-down production, which featured only a Hammond organ, percussion from an early rhythm machine and Thomas's passionate, soulful vocal. Thomas first sang it as an improvised number on his own nightclub, the "Denisse Lounge". Afterwards, as the audience loved it, with the help of his employees, he did write it. So, Timmy recorded a demo at Dukoff Recording Studios in North Miami, Florida, with Bill Borkan acting as sound engineer. The single short version got more airplay, because the longer instrumental Coda, was considered by many radio stations, to be more closer to Jazz.

TK Records staff producer Steve Alaimo listened to the demo of the song and was going to re-cut it with a full band, but then decided the song was already finished the way it was.[1] Released as a single in late 1972, the song became a major hit in the U.S. during the early part of 1973, reaching the number one spot on the R&B chart, number three on the Billboard Pop Singles[2] and eventually selling over two million copies. It was also a hit in the UK as well, peaking at #12.[3] There was a re-release on 7" and 12" in 1979, with a live version as B-side on the 7" European release.[4]

Later, the song has been covered by many artists, including Mike Anthony (1982), Sade (1984, on her debut album Diamond Life), Joan Osborne, Steve Winwood (2003) and Maria Muldaur (2009). In 1990, a "Stand Up For Love" re-recording of the song was done by Thomas. Mike Anthony, an American DJ/producer based in Belgium at the time, recorded his discofied version of the song in early 1982 but while it had reached the Belgian and Dutch charts, he was sued by the owners of the original Timmy Thomas recording for using elements from the original recording. A judge ordered a re-recording of the song with all the original parts removed. This ruling marked one of the first court cases in which the use of original samples in new recordings played a role, as a precursor to the many court cases in the 1990s and 2000s.

Santana on "Live at Montreux" plays the cover of "Why Can't We Live Together" (1996 & 2004). Lucky Peterson covered the song in the album Lucky Peterson, 1999.


  1. ^ allmusic : Why Can't We Live Together
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 577. 
  3. ^ http://www.everyhit.com
  4. ^ Discogs - 7" single, cat 101655, Disques Vogue label, France Why Can't We Live Together?
Preceded by
"Superstition" by Stevie Wonder
Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single
January 27, 1973 – February 3, 1973
Succeeded by
"Could It Be I'm Falling in Love" by The Spinners