Flashback Soul: Billy Preston & Syreeta Wright Are “Born Again”

December 29, 2020 — My brother-in-law, Jason, a soul music fan who also is a musician and composer, likes to DJ for me at family gatherings. Fortunately, his tastes trend towards extremely well-produced and performed tracks, and his goal is usually to hit me hard with songs from my early years or others that trigger great depth of feeling as I quietly sip my bourbon. At our latest holiday get-together, he came out of the gate with a few Streisand/Barry Gibb classics that rocked me, but then he jabbed me with the glorious duet “With You I’m Born Again” featuring the late, great Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright.  I didn’t see that one coming and was down for the count! 

December 29, 2020 — My brother-in-law, Jason, a soul music fan who also is a musician and composer, likes to DJ for me at family gatherings. Fortunately, his tastes trend towards extremely well-produced and performed tracks, and his goal is usually to hit me hard with songs from my early years or others that trigger great depth of feeling as I quietly sip my bourbon. At our latest holiday get-together, he came out of the gate with a few Streisand/Barry Gibb classics that rocked me, but then he jabbed me with the glorious duet “With You I’m Born Again” featuring the late, great Billy Preston and Syreeta Wright.  I didn’t see that one coming and was down for the count! 

Released in 1979 as part of the movie soundtrack for the film Fast Break, the track eventually reached #4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and received considerable critical acclaim. The great film composer Marvin Hamlisch, who first heard the song while seated in a barber’s chair, is said to have immediately lept up in excitement, nearly getting his throat cut in the process!  I understand why. Everything about this song is perfect:  The melody is rich, deep and beautiful; Preston’s baritone voice nestles exquisitely beneath Wright’s angelic soprano; and the lush, supporting strings add just the right mood. These two aren’t simply making music here, they’re making magic. Enjoy.

By Robb Patryk

(Dedicated to Jason, my favorite DJ)

 

Leave a comment!