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

Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

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.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.


Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.