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In an era where artists are constantly being sued over sampling in their music Timmy Thomas is glad Drake sampled his 1973 hit, “Why Can’t We Live Together” in “Hotline Bling.” “I’m just excited. You can hear it in my voice. I’m excited. I’m verrry excited,” Thomas told Spin. It comes at the perfect time too now that Thomas is trying to relaunch his music career after decades of teaching:
I was very proud to listen to what he had done with it. Even though he had changed the message that I had, you know, “Why can’t we live together.” But what it does is it gives me a chance for my name to be back out there, and gives me a chance to say something to the young people again. And that’s what exciting about it with me. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it’s gonna do well.
Thomas is happy about the way Drake went about clearing the sample explaining, “he did it the right way, he contacted my publishing company and contacted my writers. And so there’s nobody running.” “Why Can’t We Live Together” is a song about peace and Thomas is glad Drake didn’t use any of the original vocals to change the meaning of the song, “I think I would’ve struggled if he’d said, ‘Why, tell me, why can’t we live together,’ and then, ‘Call me on your cell phone…’ That doesn’t work.”
On the original meaning of the song Thomas still remembers exactly when inspiration hit to write the tune:
I can look back and I can see it vividly, what just happened. I had just moved to Miami. And I’ll never forget, I was sitting in the study, because I was getting ready to teach school, higher education… I was sitting in my study, and I heard Walter Cronkite. I’ll never forget this. He said, ‘35,000 Viet Cong died today, 15,000 Americans.’ I said ‘WHAT?! You mean that many mothers’ children died today? In a war that we can’t come to the table and sit down and talk about this, without so many families losing their loved ones?’ I said, ‘Why can’t we live together?’
Listen to Timmy Thomas’ “Why Can’t We Live Together” below.