Billy Preston — “Hey Brother”: Brace for the Obscure (60s rock)! — February 27, 2022

368) Billy Preston — “Hey Brother

I offer today’s song as a tribute to the courageous and resolute Ukrainian people fighting for their freedom (and, ultimately, for all of ours), their country and their lives. I think Billy would approve:

“Hey, brother, where you goin’ with that stick in your hand? He said, “Goin’ over here. Goin’ to destroy another man’s land.” . . . I’ll tell you what’s wrong, I was born to be strong. To be tied down, I can’t stand it. Listen, wrong or right, black or white, we all deserve an equal right. Hey, brother, learn how to live with one another.”

As Bruce Eder says, “Hey Brother”, a ’68 A-side and ’69 album track, is “a topical rewrite of ‘Hey Joe'”, the folk song of disputed authorship indisputably made famous by Jimi Hendrix’s brilliance. ( Billy transformed the song into a soulful ode to freedom and equality.

Of course, Billy Preston needs no introduction, but let me quote from Bruce Eder:

Billy Preston spent most of the 1960s as a working musician . . . . one rooftop concert and the “Get Back” single later, he was among the most famous musicians ever to work with [the Beatles] on a recording. Preston was also the first artist that Apple Records pulled away from another label to sign, buying out his existing contract and four finished songs [including “Hey Brother”] for an upcoming LP from Capitol Records.  Preston finished what became [the album] That’s the Way God Planned It . . . with George Harrison producing . . . . Sadly, the LP never sold the way Apple’s management had hoped [peaking at #11 in the UK but only #62 in the U.S.] . . . .

As Sharon Davis writes, the album “remind[s] us of Billy’s enormous and irreplaceable contribution to music.” (

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Pay to Play! The Off the Charts Spotify Playlist!

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