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Bill Withers In The Beachwood

"Bill Withers, a onetime Navy aircraft mechanic who, after teaching himself to play the guitar, wrote some of the most memorable and often-covered songs of the 1970s, including 'Lean on Me,' 'Ain't No Sunshine' and 'Use Me,' died on Monday in Los Angeles. He was 81," the New York Times reports."

A onetime Navy aircraft mechanic, ha ha; from the Washington Post: "In 1971, even as his breakthrough hit, 'Ain't No Sunshine,' soared to the top 10 of Billboard's Hot 100 chart, Bill Withers had a backup plan - he was still employed at an aircraft parts company where he made toilets for 747s."

Back to the Times:

His death, at a hospital, was announced by his family. His son, Todd, said Mr. Withers had had heart problems.

Mr. Withers, who had an evocative, gritty R&B voice that could embody loss or hope, was in his 30s when he released his first album, "Just as I Am," in 1971. It included "Ain't No Sunshine," a mournful lament ("Ain't no sunshine when she's gone/And she's always gone too long/Anytime she goes away") that cracked the Billboard Top 10.

Other hits followed, perhaps none better known than "Lean on Me," an anthem of friendship and support that hit No. 1 in 1972 and has been repurposed countless times by a variety of artists.

Withers appeared in the Beachwood a few times over the years. Let's take a look.

Here Comes The Country Sun, March 2007:

"9. Bill Withers, 'Ain't No Sunshine.' Did you know that Booker T. produced and arranged this song? Well he did, and it's pretty near perfection. We all probably pretty much know this song but you should check out the full recording history of Withers - it is really good."

*

Chad Everett: All Strung Out, March 2008:

"Then there's 'Ain't No Sunshine,' which was a then-current hit for Bill Withers. Probably the best thing on this album was the group of (uncredited) black female backing vocalists Tempo assembled for this effort. If it has any saving graces, they are it. They take the signature part of this song, the endlessly-repeated 'and I know, I know, I know . . . ' while Chad cools his tonsils. Thanks, Nino."

*

Bloodshot Briefing, August 28:

"3. William Elliott Whitmore will release his Bloodshot Records debut Kilonova on September 7th.

The 10-song covers record is his first long-form release since 2015's critically acclaimed Radium Death . . .

"This collection is something I've been wanting to put forth for a long time," Whitworth said. "A handful of these tunes I've been doing in my live sets for years, and it just felt right to give them a little home. A place where my interpretations can live and hopefully be enjoyed."

1. Fear of Trains (Magnetic Fields)
2. Busted (Harlan Howard)
3. Don't Pray on Me (Bad Religion)
4. Hot Blue and Righteous (ZZ Top)
5. Five Feet High and Rising (Johnny Cash)
6. Ain't No Sunshine (Bill Withers)
7. One Glass at a Time (Red Meat)
8. Run Johnny Run (Jimmy Driftwood)
9. Country Blues (Dock Boggs)
10. Bat Chain Puller (Captain Beefheart)

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See also: Bill Withers' Songfacts Interview.

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And:

Still Bill, the documentary.

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Comments welcome.



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Posted on April 4, 2020


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