Microkhan by Brendan I. Koerner

Gone Too Soon

November 11th, 2009 · 2 Comments


We first got turned on to Donny Hathaway by reading the liner notes for The Chronic. We were amazed by how many of the samples were copped from Extension of a Man, and so we saved up some hard-earned cash to buy the album. It’s since become one of our favorites, a platter we’ve spun on countless occasions when we require sonic escape.

There’s no telling where Hathaway’s career might have taken him if he’d been born, say, a decade later. But during his early ’70s heyday, medical science just didn’t have the means to deal with his paranoid schizophrenia—the disease that ultimately led him to take his own life in spectacular fashion.

There’s a poignant essay about Hathaway’s descent into mental illness here. And his daughter has blossomed into a great singer, too.

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2 Comments so far ↓

  • Jordan

    It kind of blew my mind when I found out that one of the biochemical markers of schizophrenia is elevated dopamine levels. The same chemical that makes us feel great can also drive us crazy. There’s a really awesome episode of the WNYC show “Radiolab” where they’re talking about music and it’s effects on the brain. One story was about the first performance of “The Rite of Spring” when the audience ending up rioting. Turns out that there are structures in the brain tasked with figuring out the structure of music that we’re listening to. If they get the pattern and can guess what’s coming, a little dopamine gets squirted out. If the pattern can’t be determined or the tones jarr too much compared to what we’re used to, a lot if dopamine gets released. Too much discord and you go a little crazy.

    What a balancing act.

  • Faking the Crates

    […] albums. (We discussed, for example, how Dr. Dre led us into Donny Hathaway’s sonic embrace here.) But nowadays, there are more and more artists who are taking original music and recasting is as […]

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