Song of the Day #4,905: ‘Nothing From Nothing’ – Billy Preston

The timing of this Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction is perfect, given the recent release of the 8-hour Beatles documentary Get Back. Keyboardist Billy Preston plays a key role in that series, joining The Beatles on some of their most iconic recordings, as well as their final live performance.

Preston has such a gregarious and calming presence in that footage. It’s a joy to watch him work, and sad to know the turn his life took in later years.

Preston is best-known as an essential sideman to acts such as The Rolling Stones, The Everly Brothers, Ray Charles, Sam Cooke, and Little Richard. His work with The Beatles earned him a credit alongside the band on the ‘Get Back’ single and recognition as one of very few “fifth Beatles.”

Preston also had a prolific solo career, releasing more than a dozen albums and scoring three #1 hits (‘Get Back,’ ‘Will it Go Round in Circles’ and today’s SOTD).

Fun fact: Preston reportedly coined the phrase “if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with,” and gave it to Stephen Stills, who used it in his a single.

The 70s and 80s treated Preston well, but things took a bad turn in the 90s. He fell into drug addiction and was arrested on charges of possession, drunk driving and assault. He spent a lot of time in rehab. Incidents where he was accused of sexually assaulting a 16-year-old boy and another man brought to light the homosexuality he had suppressed in shame for most of his life.

Preston died in 2006 after slipping into a coma following multiple health issues. His funeral was attended by a lineup of artists who could make up their own Hall of Fame.

[Chorus]
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing
You gotta have something if you wanna be with me
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing
You gotta have something if you wanna be with me

[Verse]
I’m not trying to be your hero
Cause that zero is too cold for me
I’m not trying to be your highness
‘Cause that minus is too low to see, yeah
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing
And I’m not stuffing, believe you me
Don’t you remember I told ya
I’m a soldier in the war on poverty
Yeah, yes, I am

[Chorus]
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing
You gotta have something if you wanna be with me
Nothing from nothing leaves nothing
You gotta have something if you wanna be with me
That’s right, ha, yeah

[Outro]
Gotta have something if you wanna be with me
You gotta bring me something, girl, if you wanna be with me

One thought on “Song of the Day #4,905: ‘Nothing From Nothing’ – Billy Preston

  1. Dana Gallup says:

    It was pure joy watching Preston in Get Back and the positive impact he clearly had on the Beatles at a time when they needed it to counter all the discord, tension and acrimony.

    I had no idea his life took such a dark turn decades later. Very sad!

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