BILL WITHERS: SOUL SINGER SONGWRITER

Uncategorized October 12th, 2009


As a child I first heard Bill Withers floating out of my moms transistor radio. The song I heard was the hit Lean On Me. My mother loved this song and whenever it came on she would light up. This lead her to going to cop several records of his including the amazing Here I am, Still Bill and later on Live at Carnegie Hall, which may be the best live soul, record ever made. Needless to say my mom was a huge fan of Bill Withers work as well as Van Morrison, Bob Dylan and most of the singer songwriters who were popular at the time. She also loved her some Otis Redding and I always felt that Bill Withers was a combo of Otis Redding and Bob Dylan/Van Morrison therefore his music became a staple in my house. My mom loves her some soul music as well as her singer songwriter stuff and Bills totally original eclectic mixing of the two genres really struck a chord with her.

I always thought of Bill Withers as a soul singer/songwriter albeit a super funky one. Growing up he was one of the things that inspired me to learn how to use the home stereo and how to treat records (remember them?) as precious gems that were meant to be treated with the utmost delicacy. Later on in life when beat making and hip-hop became part of my life and I discovered the culture and sounds of Break Beats (The Octopus beaks if you don’t know like I say now you know go get the facts they are a post in and of itself) I was pleasantly surprised to find Who is he and what is he to you and Use me included in these choice morsels of sample friendly fodder. Made me think my mom was a lot funkier than I thought she was as a youngster being that these were 2 favorites of hers. The break on this song is one of the most used breaks ever and is probably Bill’s most sampled song.

07-kissing-my-love

I revisited Bill many times in many phases in my life and though his whole career warrants much respect his first 3 records are the ones that continue to amaze me. Grand Ma’s hands (Sampled for No Diggity) is one of the greatest songs ever made and a amazing portrait of the intense family structure that often exists in black America that also relates to all cultures not just Black America, as well as the amazing anti war song I can’t write left-handed. There is a movie oft delayed coming out about Bill’s career and life, which is really interesting from how old he was when he entered the public eye (32 a elephants age for most pop stars to debut. Was he ever really pop star I wonder?) To why he left the cesspool of the music industry material that Wax Poetics covered very in depth a few ago in one of they’re truly stellar issues.

03-grandmas-hands

09-i-cant-write-left-handed-1

Bill Withers has always been some what of an enigma, a artist between genres, a man who left the game early and someone who had 2 distinctly different careers in one lifetime. From singer songwriter (the black Neil Young?) and later a less compelling inventor of the genre called adult contemporary music (Just the two of us with Grover Washington and the gap ad friendly Lovely day). Through it all one thing remained with me HIS VOICE! It is simply beautiful and totally unique with a deep connection to the blues, soul and somehow country music in a weird way ( Hank Williams was definitely a influence on him admittedly). He was a southern boy and it is always a quotient in the mix of his musical stew. Bill Withers remains one of my all time favorites and was also a very under rated guitarist and musician (He played piano, drums and bass and often did his own background vocals when he had them. He was a firm believer in one voice very little harmony’s making his message resonate that much deeper in a sense).

I posted a few tunes and a link to his film that I hope comes out one day I heard it was really good from my friend Benny. For me Bill Withers is a national treasure, he made conscious and socially important music, he sang like an angel and he always made my mom smile when she caught me grooving to his sounds as a kid. Bill I say thanks for the sounds your music is funky, spiritual and made a lasting impact on my entire life as well as being inspiring on so many levels it’s not funny.

The forthcoming film trailer:

http://www.stillbillthemovie.com/

These 2 are just amazing tunes. Moanin and Groanin was a big influence on the Whitey Ford record as far as sound I wanted to capture. I always wanted someone to rock over the intro loop. Might be my favorite song by him ever

11-moanin-and-groanin

And this one is just so dark,so real and so full of dysfunction it’s terrifying. This song took a lot of courage to record. This is Bill’s take on the blues and man it is darker than blue. Just a brilliant song and the ending…heavy stuff indeed

12-better-off-dead

And on a happier note here’s another gem from the man everybody’s favorite Gap add:

lovely-day

Check Bill out speaking on his walking away from the game:

Enjoy

Dante Ross

3 Responses to “BILL WITHERS: SOUL SINGER SONGWRITER”

  1. blahblahblah Says:

    the movie is good, not to be missed. caught it in LA.

  2. gerald watson Says:

    that 4min clip from reel black has helped me put so much into perspective…keep putting out these dope posts!

  3. Mickey Carroll Says:

    This is just some input from a seasoned song writer musician Bill Withers is an inspiration as to what can be done with the art of music .

    I think song writing should be paying attention to world community in regard to it’s struggle with life experience . Example ( Song For My Son ) is a song about children weapons or a son away at war . It is a culturally diverse performance .This song has over 54.000 views and growing on You Tube . I invite you to view it and hope you enjoy

    Song For My Son -Preformed by Jackie Jones & Mickey Carroll

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gey8AAlMHDs

    Song For My Son - Preformed by FF Bascombe written by Mickey Carroll

    http://www.motherj.com/images/MOTHER_J_-_Blue_Dot.swf

    Thank you Bill for your inspiring music in my life.

    Mickey

    Mickey Carroll
    Grammy nominee
    Gold Record recipient
    http://www.motherj.com
    http://www.mickeycarroll.com

Leave a Reply