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Every Billboard Hot 100 Single 1970- #29 “The Ghetto”- Donny Hathaway. The final entry onto the charts for January 17, 1970.

  • Single: “The Ghetto”- Donny Hathaway
  • Record Company- Atco
  • Genre: Soul
  • Written by Donny Hathaway and Leroy Hutson
  • Time: 2:42
  • B-side: ‘Part 2″
  • Album: Everything Is Everything
  • Grade: A+
  • Peaked at #87 8 weeks in the Billboard Hot 100


While “The Ghetto” wasn’t a hit [it did go to #23 on the Soul Singles Chart} is is a great song. The debut single on Donny Hathaway’s debut album. Listening to “The Ghetto” gives me the feeling of watching a movie.  You get the sounds of men talking on the corner, a baby crying [the baby was Donny’s daughter Lalah}

Donny Hathaway’s story is a sad and tragic one. Hathaway suffered from severe bouts of depression during his life and was diagnosed as being a paranoid schizophrenic and was taking strong medication to control that illness. According to his wife he wasn’t always taking his medication and he would require several hospitalizations throughout the 1970’s. At a recording session in January 1979 he began behaving irrationally . The recording session  was called off. Hours later he was found dead on the sidewalk below his 15th floor room at the Essex House hotel in NYC. He was only 33 years old.  Hathaway’s big pop hits were duets with his college friend Roberta Flack- “Where Is The Love” #5 1972 and “The Closer I Get To You” #2 1978.

Justin Timberflake has called Hathaway “the greatest singer of all time”, Stevie Wonder said “When Donny sings any song he owns it” and Amy Winehouse said he was her favorite artist of all time.


    • What a tragic story/ life. A close friend of mine struggled most of his adult life with severe mental illness. It makes me sad thinking about what he went through.

  1. I was educated by this song my first year in high school. I learned it viscerally in my room at night while I played it over and over again. I learned it socially while it played in the background during intense talks in the student union meeting room.
    The exquisite “I Love the Lord He Heard My Cry/Someday We’ll All be Free from his Extension of a Man album exorcised my pain in college. It didn’t exorcise his or save his life. Brilliance is often broken by mental illness.

    • I don’t think I ever heard this song until a year ago- but it is one that I have thought of many times since hearing it. l will look into the other song you mentioned!

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