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Charles Bradley’s Posthumous Song ‘Lonely as You Are’ Is a Devastating Masterclass

Late soul singer recorded song months after being diagnosed with stomach cancer

The late soul singer Charles Bradley was deep into chemotherapy when he entered a home recording studio in Queens, New York. In the fall of 2016, he’d been diagnosed with stomach cancer, forcing him to cancel a North American tour in support of his third album, Changes. Weak, but resilient, Bradley entered the recording booth and began to record the vocals for a new song, “Lonely As You Are,” on the spot.

The resulting track is a heart-rending ballad that deftly mixes Bradley’s powerhouse vocals with country-tinged soul groove. “No one can chain me, if it call for me to die,” Bradley belts, “I’m so lonely, lonely as hell.” The song closes with Bradley delivering a poignant message to his mother, grandmother and other loved ones, “One day, when God says well done, please be at the gate, waiting for me.”

“Charles knew ‘Lonely as You Are’ could comfort people and help them find a way to deal with their own loneliness,” said Bradley’s former co-manager, Morton Lorge. “He was always looking for ways to make people feel better, even when he was confronting his own pain and suffering. He asked that ‘Lonely’ be played at his funeral; he wanted to share it with the world.”

Bradley recorded “Lonely As You Are” as part of a session with New York-based musician and producer, James Levy. Multi-instrumentalist Paul Defiglia helped complete the track, tapping the Avett Brothers’ Seth Avett and Mike Marsh to provide acoustic guitar and drums, respectively.

“Lonely As You Are” is the first of two songs from Bradley’s sessions with Levy, with the other, “Lucifer,” set to arrive May 31st.

Bradley died September 2017 after a battle with stomach and liver cancer at the age of 68. A posthumous album, Black Velvet, was released last November via the Daptone imprint, Dunham Records.

 

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