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"
ReleasedAugust 1972
FormatVinyl record (45 RPM)
Length3:53 (single version)
4:50 (album version)
LabelGlades/TK Records
Songwriter(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 being recorded in mono; its sparse, stripped-down production, feature a Lowrey organ, bossa nova-style percussion from an early rhythm machine, and Thomas's passionate, soulful vocal.[1] Thomas recorded a demo at Dukoff Recording Studios in North Miami, Florida, with Bill Borkan acting as sound engineer.[citation needed] The single version got more airplay because the longer instrumental coda was considered by many radio stations to be closer to jazz.[citation needed]

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.[2] 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[3] and eventually selling over two million copies. The song became his only hit single. It was also a hit in the UK, peaking at #12.[4] There was a re-release on 7" and 12" in 1979, with a live version as B-side on the 7" European release.

Later recorded versions[edit]

The song has been covered by many artists, including Jamaican singer Tinga Stewart (1977), Mike Anthony (1982), Sade (1984, on her debut album Diamond Life), Joan Osborne, Steve Winwood (2003) and Maria Muldaur (2009). MC Hammer re-interpreted the song on his 1991 album Too Legit to Quit.[5] 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. Steve Winwood covered the song on About Time in 2003.

In 2015, Canadian rapper Drake released "Hotline Bling", which heavily samples the song.[5]


  1. ^ "Why Can't We Live Together? - Tinga Stewart - Song Info". AllMusic.
  2. ^ Ed Hogan. "Why Can't We Live Together - Timmy Thomas | Song Info". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-10-08.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 577.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 557. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  5. ^ a b "Q&A: Timmy Thomas on Drake Sampling His '70s Soul Hit for 'Hotline Bling'". Spin. 5 October 2015.