Deep Dive: Donny Hathaway, COME BACK, CHARLESTON BLUE
Today we remember the late, great R&B singer-songwriter Donny Hathaway, who died on this date in 1979, and we do so by taking a deep dive into his back catalog and taking a look at the soundtrack he recorded for an oft-forgotten ‘70s sequel.
Yes, that’s right: Come Back, Charleston Blue was a sequel to the 1970 film Cotton Comes to Harlem, with both films starring Godfrey Cambridge as Gravedigger Jones and Raymond St. Jacques as Coffin Ed Johnson, their characters having originated in a series of novels by author Chester Himes. While Come Back, Charleston Blue might not have found as much acclaim or commercial success as its predecessor (possibly because it was distinctly lacking Redd Foxx, who’d been in the cast of the first film), it nonetheless had a pretty great soundtrack by Hathaway, who was supervised on the project by Quincy Jones.
COME BACK CHARLESTON BLUE was not what you’d call a massive hit for Hathaway: the album only just crawled onto the Billboard 200, debuting at #198, and getting no higher, and the single’s performance wasn’t much more substantial, only bubbling under the Hot 100 before vanishing. Commercial success is certainly no confirmation of quality, however, so give it a listen and remember Hathaway’s work fondly.