Charles Bradley’s “Lucifer” is out now via Innit Recordings and is the last of his final recordings set for release this summer.
Created alongside his recently released single “Lonely As You Are,” “Lucifer” was spontaneously penned in Bradley’s Queens home while he faced crippling chemotherapy following a stomach cancer diagnosis that veered him off course at the peak of his career.
In the song, Bradley confronts his own mortality while encompassed by political upheaval and uncertainty in the final days of Obama’s presidency.
Bradley died of cancer in 2017 at age 68. He lives on through his posthumous album, Black Velvet, and the pair of singles, “Lucifer” and “Lonely As You Are.”
“Charles knew what he wanted to say and he said it quickly,” said James Levy, who co-wrote and co-produced “Lucifer” and “Lonely as You Are,” in a statement. “He wore his heart on his sleeve. A true singer.”
Devastating, comforting and endlessly soulful, “Lucifer” is the ballad of a dying man as Bradley explores his mortality while he sings, “I know Lucifer was in heaven,” and heartbreakingly asks, “How much can a man go through in this whole world?”
“Lucifer” brings Bradley back to the familiar territory of an uptempo soul jam with plenty of his trademark powerful, time-weathered screams and joyful, spiritual lyrics. The song is empathetic, his encouraging and consoling final message to the world before he took his leave.
“I saw you the other day when your heart was crying,” Bradley sings, his voice straining so tightly you think it may break. “You thought I didn’t care. But my heart was crying, too.”
Flanked by light instrumentation of simple bass, piano and drums, Bradley turns to Obama as the political world around him shifts tumultuously.
“Obama, you’ve done what you had to do,” Charles gently promises. “Change the world.”
Then, he turns his attention to the rest of us, excavating his unspeakable pain and turning it to joy as he always has, and reminding us, above all, to love as he finishes off the song with the words, “I love you, baby.”
Listen to “Lucifer” below and revisit Bradley’s 2016 Daytrotter Session further down.