He'll Be There: Every Time You Hear That Song, Remember, Willie Hutch Wrote It

In the paper version of Unfair Park this week, I make mention of my interview with Willie Hutch, the Carrollton-born great who, during our 1998 chat at his Cedar Hill recording studio, recounted how he came to write the Jackson 5's immortal "I'll Be There." The story about The Mack, who died in Duncanville in 2005 at the age of 60, can be found here. But here are some links to versions of "I'll Be There" worth a spin during the holiday weekend.

From 1986 comes this proudly sloppy cover by The Replacements, joined during a Boston gig by the great Barrence Whitfield -- you'll get drunk just listening to the thing. Far more respectful (and tuneful) is this version recorded last Sunday night at the BET Awards, during which Tyler's own Jamie Foxx joined Ne-Yo to close the show with their take on the 1970 hit single. But most surprising and moving of all is this hard-to-find find from 1979: the Jacksons themselves, recorded during a concert in Amsterdam. Revelatory, even at this late date.

And don't miss this bonus Jacksons-related, locally connected track, which Pete pointed to earlier this week: Erykah Badu and The Roots' version of "I Wanna Be Where You Are," a hit in 1972 ... and a song later covered by Willie Hutch. Now, the circle is complete.

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