RIP Bill Withers: July 04, 1938 - March 30, 2020

May he keep composing and crooning to the stars in the afterlife...

He co-wrote and debuted the stellar Lean on Me in April of 1972; we'll be reminded of this plaintive song a lot during the coming depression, won't we?

Playing for Change's (World Peace through Music) cover is soul-stirring:

Bill was credited for having co-written Ain't No Sunshine, but as far as I'm concerned this cover knock the song outta the park, and they own it now!

Ladysmith Black Mambazo and Des'ree - Ain't No Sunshine

The Official Site of Bill Withers’ Music, including discography, biography, awards, etc.

Add what you'd like, of course.

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wendy davis's picture

@irishking

"A few years after “Two of Us,” Withers became one of the few stars in pop-music history to truly walk away from a lucrative career, entirely of his own volition, and never look back. “These days,” he says, “I wouldn’t know a pop chart from a Pop-Tart.”

As the Grammy telecast begins, and AC/DC kick off the show, Withers jumps into his Lexus SUV and heads down to his favorite restaurant, Le Petit Four; he has a hankering for liver and onions but settles for the blackened catfish. The hostess knows him by name, but otherwise he blends into the crowd. “I grew up in the age of Barbra Streisand, Aretha Franklin, Nancy Wilson,” he says, still musing on the Grammys. “It was a time where a fat, ugly broad that could sing had value. Now everything is about image. It’s not poetry. This just isn’t my time.”

Others don’t believe he is who he says: “One Sunday morning I was at Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles. These church ladies were sitting in the booth next to mine. They were talking about this Bill Withers song they sang in church that morning. I got up on my elbow, leaned into their booth and said, ‘Ladies, it’s odd you should mention that because I’m Bill Withers.’ This lady said, ‘You ain’t no Bill Withers. You’re too light-skinned to be Bill Withers!’ ”

His career lasted eight years by his own count; in that time, he wrote and recorded some of the most loved, most covered songs of all time, particularly “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” — tunes that feature dead-simple, soulful instrumentation and pure melodies that haven’t aged a second. “He’s the last African-American Everyman,” says Questlove. “Jordan’s vertical jump has to be higher than everyone. Michael Jackson has to defy gravity. On the other side of the coin, we’re often viewed as primitive animals. We rarely land in the middle. Bill Withers is the closest thing black people have to a Bruce Springsteen.

i admit that once i'd realized i could never grow up to be aretha franklin, life went downhill for me from then on. sigh.

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longtalldrink's picture

Still brings tears to my eyes.

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Well done is better than well said-Ben Franklin

wendy davis's picture

@longtalldrink

a love song to his grandma. "whatcha want to whip him for?"

thank you longtalldrink. i can see why it brings tears to your eyes. grandmas are usually counted on for their unconditional love; she had it.

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mimi's picture

I start crying a lot during the last couple of months. Remember lean on me from way back in the early eighties.

Seems there is no sunshine these days.

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wendy davis's picture

@mimi

i've seen you noting your angst, fear, and grief here and there. if i could take some of it way from you, i would. i suppose push come to shove, i'm more upset by the epic level of the drums of fear and war by other means than anything else.

sending good thoughts and vibes your way, and the most joyous Playing for Change song i know:

betcha can't sit still and stop grinning!

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mimi's picture

@wendy davis @wendy davis
back my hope, joy and happiness. The sounds of my younger years. Did I ever say that I miss whatever I learned about the music I heard while my former husband was still alive and with me? I had a long life. These sounds accompanied me for a good while. Now everbody is dead.

Oh my, the music is so good. Thank you, Wendy.

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wendy davis's picture

@mimi

the house playing for change band come from so many different nations, and blend so well, and play off one another synergistically (is that a word?). no, i don't remember our having said that, so there may be a certain poignancy to hearing this sort of music again...but if it cheers you and makes you want to dance in your chair: hooray!

mr. wd's favorite is Jah Guide, a peter tosh (rastafarian) cover, just as good, but of a very different feeling: contemplative, prayerful, and spiritual:

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orlbucfan's picture

@wendy davis

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Some yahoos make me want to change species!

orlbucfan's picture

@orlbucfan Disregard earlier message. Smile A great artist and a for real human being. His art is already surviving him: the greatest compliment any artist can get. Rec'd!!

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Some yahoos make me want to change species!

wendy davis's picture

@orlbucfan

bill's website? pace if it finally worked...i hope so.

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wendy davis's picture

@jbob

"brother, if ya only knew...you'd wish you were in my shoes!"

thanks, jbob. mr. wd remembered that one, i hadn't.

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