A gifted dramaturge of his songs: The great US soul singer and songwriter Bill Withers died on Friday. He was 81 years old.
Why does the guy look so stupid? Do you know him better? Questions after questions. Where, if not in a pop song, questions after questions are allowed! Especially because “Who is he (And what is he to you)?” Is the jealousy song with the most ripped-off groove in the world. It was sung by the US singer Bill Withers in 1972 with a Verve that does not eradicate all the rudeness of jealousy, the turmoil between mistrust and paranoia, but still keeps a distance. And keeping your distance is – there is not too much going on now – the commandment of the hour that simply does not want to pass.
Bill Withers was born in 1938 as one of six children in a family in the Kaff Slab Fork in the US state of West Virginia. Although he had sung in the church choir, music was not exactly in his cradle. Like many African Americans, he escaped poverty by enrolling in the US Army. As a mechanic, he joined the Navy and stayed for nine years. In 1964 he found a job with the Boeing aircraft company and moved to the west coast.
To counter the monotony of the assembly line, he began to compose songs, relatively simple but all the more catchy numbers, sung with his distinctive voice, which was nowhere near as choleric as James Brown's, less exuberant than Wilson Pickett's. Wither's voice sounded cool, he could take it back, he could just whistle like in the song “Kissing my Love”, an uptempo funk whose vocals first take the breakbeat of the drums, then the swing of the guitar's wah-wah pedal and then on the kiss just whistles ecstatically. Withers was a gifted dramaturge of his songs.
However, he could also stand alone on stage with a guitar and play folk songs, which then did not sound like folk songs, but like super precise soul songs with a radio flip side, sung by Bill Withers with the distinctive voice.
No scandals, no drugs, no Twitter feed, zero
In 1971, when his debut album “Just as I am” was released, Black Power's storm-and-stress period was already burning. The blacks' growing self-confidence had given way to disillusionment in the face of the economic crisis at home and the Vietnam War in the distance. Withers retired to the private sphere in blues, but remained confident: “Ain't no Sunshine” became his first world hit, a deeply sad, still reminiscent of blues song that can be carried to the beat by the beat with a simple feeling Sung with ease: longing for closeness.
There were hits in Wither's career as well as misses. But when the hits tumbled, it came thick – as in the ultra-melter “Just the two of us” (1981), which bridges the threshold between living room and bedroom in a kind of litter made of pure silk. The saxophone solo and the folded bass open even a closed Samsonite case.
There is still a lot that has to be counted against Bill Withers forever. For example, that he has decently withdrawn from his star career, no scandals, no drugs, no Twitter feed, zero, served. He just stopped when it was most beautiful. In the midst of all the madness in and around Corona, he died of a heart attack at the age of 81. Children, the world is getting poorer.