THE STORY BEHIND "LETS STAY TOGETHER"
Al Green reveals in his book, "Take Me To The River," while he was relaxing in the country, producer Willie Mitchell approached him with a rough mix. He wanted Green to write the lyrics. Green said, "Give me fifteen minutes." Green went into a room to write out the words right off the top of his head. Actually, it took just five minutes. "Willie," I said as I handed him the sheet of paper, "I don't hear this song. I think I need something a little stronger."
Willie shot a quick look over to Al, then sat down at the piano bench like a banker about to tell you why he's about to turn you down for a loan. "Al, he replied, you've got it all wrong. Not only is this the perfect song for you but if you sing this song the way it should be sung, it will be the biggest hit of your career. "I don't think so," I said. I think we need something stronger, something with some punch.
We fought off and on for the next two days over that tune before I agreed to record it for him. Even then, I wasn't happy with what came out, partly because I really wasn't convinced that it was the right direction to be heading in.
But once Willie got me behind the microphone, he pressed home his advantage. "Softer, Al, sing it softer, he'll say over the intercom. "You got to go lighter on it." We did take after take with him interrupting me right in the middle to coax more falsetto out, to get me back off the beat and slide over the vocals.
Finally, more out of frustration than anything else, I gave him exactly what he wanted just to put an end to the ordeal.
We finished late on a Friday night. By Monday, Willie had pressed up an acetate of the single and shipped it out. By Thursday, we'd gotten word: We were coming onto the charts at number 8 with a bullet. Ten days later, we were number one and we stayed number one for the next nine weeks.
It was official, "Let's Stay Together," was a certified smash!