Bill Withers has passed on at 81

We lost another legend of music this week, and while you may not recognize the name I can pretty much guarantee you’ve heard at least one of his songs. He hit it pretty big in the 70s but left the industry in the 80s, and even still his songs are still widely played today. Another one gone, he will be missed.

My introduction to Bill Withers.

Well damn.

My favorite song by him is not “Lean On Me” or “Use Me” but this awesome paean to cold baloney sandwiches.

So many great songs, but I think ‘Lovely Day’ is my favorite of his.

Man, what a voice. So sad to lose it.

“Ain’t No Sunshine” is just a perfect piece of music. RIP, Bill.

RIP.

Bill Withers was a fantastic singer/songwriter: his first few albums deserve a place in the pantheon of great soul albums along with contemporary ones from Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder, with not just the obvious hit singles but other cuts like Grandma’s Hands, Who is He and What Is He To You, Harlem etc. etc.

Of course, he is best known for the obvious hit singles like Use Me, Ain’t No Sunshine etc. - and they’re great as well, and burned into the memory of a generation. I can remember the first time I became aware of Bill Withers. It was summer and I was nine years old, on vacation and in a tiny diner in a tiny town. Someone put a coin in the jukebox, and this came on:

It’s a song that’s been used so many times in so many places that it becomes worn out; we forget that it is, in fact, a great song. But I’ll never forget hearing it that time in that diner … and it’s certainly a song we need now, of all times.

A few years ago there was a documentary about Withers called Still Bill. The question it asked was, “Whatever happened to Bill Withers?” and, after so many dark documentaries about semi-forgotten celebrities, you prepare yourself for the worst. But it turned out the answer was: “Bill Withers was living a happy, fulfilled life with his family.” If anyone deserved that kind of happy ending, it’s someone who gave us all that great music. Thank you, Bill.

Actually I don’t think I can pick just one favorite. But in these difficult times, how about I throw out ‘I Wish You Well’ -