In late 2016, Charles Bradley faced his greatest challenge in a lifetime filled with challenges. A stomach cancer diagnosis earlier that fall forced him off the road at the peak of his career. Weakened by months of chemotherapy, facing a potentially life threatening surgery and confronting his own mortality, Bradley stepped into a home recording studio in Queens, NY and spontaneously created “Lonely as You Are.”
Eyes closed and seated, Bradley listened to the looping track and began to speak and sing lyrics on the spot, expressing hope that “one day when God says well done” he’d be reunited in heaven with his mother, grandmother, and other loved ones. He concludes the cathartic recording with the statement: “I love you. And this is Charles Bradley. I hope this one day gets out to the world.”
“Charles knew “Lonely as You Are” could comfort people and help them find a way to deal with their own loneliness. 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,” says Morton Lorge, Bradley’s former co-manager.
These sessions marked an improbable collaboration between Bradley and NYC recording artist, songwriter and producer James Levy. Working out of his Queens home studio, Levy was recording demos for a follow-up to a previous album when Levy shared the chorus and music of “Lonely as You Are” with Bradley, who wrote verses on the spot.
To finish the tracks, Levy enlisted Nashville producer and multi-instrumentalist Paul Defiglia and Seth Avett to complete the music.
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