Timmy Thomas – Why Can’t We Live Together?

Every time I hear this song I can see a certain stretch of road that leads into Southwell from Nottingham. It came on the car radio when I was a young kid and I sat there absolutely transfixed, desperately waiting for the DJ to announce what it was. Which he never did. And because this was all pre-internet days it took me years to track it down.

The thing that really gets me about the song is, of course, that artless organ. It sounds like the kind of cheap Bontempi that the lower middle-class went in for during the mid-seventies. It sounds like beige curtains and Hostess trolleys and those pictures made from coloured cotton wound tightly around strategically placed nails.

And yet because it’s ostensibly a piece of slick US soul with pretensions to profundity, it also sounds avant-garde. Which is why I really like the fact that such a strange little song was such a massive hit.

The LP it’s from (also called Why Can’t We Live Together) is full of songs of a similar, minimalist hue. But after the first couple of tracks it soon descends into utter tedium.


About Paul Saxton

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