"Just the Two of Us," Grover Washington Jr.'s soulful collaboration with Bill Withers, was one of the top singles of 1981. Now, 40 years after its first release, fans old and new are rediscovering it once more.
Grover Washington Jr., a prominent jazz-funk saxophonist, had notched seven consecutive No. 1 albums on Billboard's jazz chart between 1972 and 1978. But it was 1980's Winelight that really catapulted him into the spotlight, thanks to a guest appearance from Withers, who lent a typically gorgeous vocal to "Just the Two of Us." Withers had a close friendship with the song's co-writer, percussionist Ralph McDonald, and Washington had been one of the first to cover Bill's breakthrough hit "Ain't No Sunshine." He quickly agreed to feature on the track - provided he could help re-write it.
"They had written this song, and I'm a little snobbish about words, so they sent me this song, and said 'We want to do this with Grover, would you consider singing it?'" Withers told Songfacts. "I said, 'Yeah, if you'll let me go in and try to dress these words up a little bit.'...It was trying to put a tuxedo on it."
The result was more than "a tuxedo" - it was a No. 2 smash and a signature song for both artists. Years later, the song became part of two rap tunes - a moving father/son track by Will Smith and a humorous tribute to pint-sized movie villain Mini-Me from his creator Dr. Evil in 1999's Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me.
Now, however, a new generation has discovered the song on TikTok and are using its mellow grooves to express themselves. Some are using it to highlight their make-up styles, others are scoring skateboard tricks, and some are simply vibing. But everyone can agree - it only gets better with time. Check out the lyric video above and remember every word of this classic - then see how a new generation is responding to it below!
Fellas get matching nails with your girl ?##fypシ♬ Just the Two of Us - Grover Washington, Jr.
Just the 2 of us // ft @malachiisaiah♬ Just the Two of Us - Grover Washington, Jr.
just the two of us♬ original sound - vintage