“Lovely Day” is a song by American soul and R&B singer Bill Withers. Published in 1977, the song was written by Withers and Skip Scarborough and appears on Withers’ 1978 album Menagerie.
Released as a single in late 1977, “Lovely Day” peaked at #6 on the Billboard R&B chart and at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the US in early 1978. It also made the Top 10 in the United Kingdom, where the song reached #7 on the British single chart.
Withers’ version of “Lovely Day” has been re-released as a single in the United Kingdom at least twice since the song’s first chart run; in 1987 the original version charted again at #92, while a version done by Ben Liebrand, named the “Sunshine Mix”, made the British Top 10 in 1988, rising to #4. This remix resulted in renewed enthusiasm for the Withers original, which incurred a surge in airplay into the early 1990s and came to firmly overshadow the radio presence of Liebrand’s version. Public interest was again piqued in 1995, when “Lovely Day” was used in adverts for Tetley tea.
Producer Clarence McDonald also arranged the original 1977 version of the song and played keyboards. Guitars were played by Ray Parker, Jr., Jerry Knight played bass, and Russell Kunkel played drums.
Towards the end of the song, Withers holds a note for 18 seconds. This is believed to be the second-longest note in UK chart history; Morten Harket of A-ha’s 20-second note in “Summer Moved On” is the longest. Withers’ note is sustained in chest voice, whereas Harket utilizes the falsetto range. The former remains the longest in any Top 40 hit in the United States.