These first 45 seconds from the live recording of 'Giving Up' before Donny Hathaway's voice comes in, almost speaking the song title and theme with a straight, grave certainty is one of my favourite introductions in popular music.
Working together: the deep layering effect of the warmth of the atmosphere, the captured sound of the room, his voice's sweetness at three seconds, alongside the moment of audience recognition and then repeated piano notes, deep in the mix. That single exaggerated note and then what sounds like filtered gunfire, probably some sort of feedback and the barely heard conversations all the while.
There is something so affecting about imagining this show from more than four decades ago, imagining Hathaway in this hall in Texas, singing about loss - in a recording where his music is just another element with all the others, where you can hear the audience appreciating, but often ignoring him at the same time.
Imperfect at all times, with all those clicks and occasional crashes of noise from some unknown source and then at perfect intervals, the audience becomes part of the performance and applauds. Until about just over half-way, Hathaway is holding back and this reticence speaks to me - especially when it's contrasted to the final half when the band gets into the groove.
The recorded version is beautiful, with its own essential drama and romance, but it's difficult not to hear in the live performance a certain truth that relates to Hathaway's troubled personal life; in the fact that you can hear how he is isolated but also supported by the crowd (alone together).
What I love about live recordings from the past is the sensation you have of 'listening in ..' sharing memories of people unknown to you. There is something deeply moving and intimate about this that I could say is my brand of nostalgia.
Unlike other music fans and obsessives who hold onto moments in their musical youth (and often appear depressed comparing this personal past with the present) I like the mystery of listening in to something that has no connections with me, or my family. My parents only played classical music and radio programs when I was growing up.
Taken from the divine 1972 Live recording - side one from the Troubadour in Hollywood; side two, at the Bitter End, Greenwich Village: a record described as 'one of the best live albums ever recorded' by the BBC. And includes this extraordinary performance of 'The Ghetto'.
Connections, points of reference as it all comes together.