Music: Do What You Want – Billy Preston

The That’s The Way God Planned It album was produced by one George Harrison

Do What You WantIn May of 1971, I hitchhiked from Binghamton to New Paltz to see my girlfriend. Long story short, she broke up with me, and I was pretty devastated.

She did kindly drive me to a boarding school in nearby Poughkeepsie, where I saw my friend Steve. I had met him in Binghamton Central High School a couple years earlier. I don’t remember much about what we talked about, except he was really looking forward to seeing this great new singer named Bonnie Raitt again. I’d never of her.

At some point, he played the 1969 Billy Preston album That’s The Way God Planned It, produced by one George Harrison and released on Apple Records, with pikers such as Eric Clapton, Keith Richards and Ginger Baker playing on it. Naturally, I knew who Preston was from the Beatles Get Back session.

The first track on the album, Do What You Want, I loved instantly. It’s a wonderfully imperfect recording that starts off much slower than it ends. (The song When You Dance, I Can Really Love by Neil Young from that era does the same thing.)

Recently, I was looking for Do What You Want To on YouTube, and I came across a DIFFERENT recording on Billy’s eponymous 11th album from 1976 on A&M. It’s not a BAD song, but I find it far inferior.

it’s rather like the lyrics to the B-side of Outa-Space, one of Billy’s A&M hits, I Wrote a Simple Song:
I wrote a simple song
With simple words and harmony
Wasn’t very long
Before a star, I was bound to be

They took my simple song, yes, they did
They changed the words and the melody
Made it all sound wrong, yeah
Now it sounds like a symphony

There are very few people – Dustbury is probably one – who has such a specific memory of music in a time and place as I do.

Listen to
Do What You Want (1969)
Do What You Want (1976)

That’s The Way God Planned It (#62 pop in 1969, #65 pop in 1972)

I Wrote a Simple Song (#77 pop in 1972)

I saw Billy Preston live at the Elting Gym at the college in New Paltz in 1971 or 1972. He would have been 72 this month.

Author: Roger

I'm a librarian. I hear music, even when it's not being played. I used to work at a comic book store, and it still informs my life. I won once on JEOPARDY! - ditto.

2 thoughts on “Music: Do What You Want – Billy Preston”

  1. Ah, but do you remember who OPENED for Billy at that New Paltz show (where I was working for the crisis intervention centre)? Hint: he WASN’T a musician!!

  2. Not too many songs call up my memories of a specific place. A number of latter-day Chubby Checker tunes, I associate with an afternoon gathering that was not billed as a school dance, although schools were responsible for it and we were expected to dance.

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