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.
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.
It seemed like there was a stretch in the early ’70s when you couldn’t cut on the radio and not hear a Withers song.
And has there ever been a more compelling groove than this?
Bonus football-related clip here:
Man, I just mentioned him a couple of days ago, and now comes this sad, sad news:
Adam Schlesinger, an acclaimed singer-songwriter for the bands Fountains of Wayne and Ivy who had an award-winning second career writing songs for film, theater and television, died on Wednesday in Poughkeepsie, N.Y. He was 52.
The cause was complications of the coronavirus, his family said.
This song comes from my favorite Fountains of Wayne album, Welcome Interstate Managers. The topic should be familiar to anyone who frequents this joint.
You’ve probably heard about John Prine and Jackson Browne already. Here’s another name I came across yesterday.
This isn’t a Schlesinger song, but it’s a cover FoW did of a Ray Davies song that seems appropriate for the moment.
Yesterday, Richard Thompson performed live from his living room on Facebook. It was terrific, with songs from Fairport, his first two albums and others across his sizable book of work. Also, plenty of commentary, equal parts of awkwardness and charm, spread throughout.
It was a great gesture, watched by over 10,000. You can find it on his Facebook page if you scroll down a little bit. Highly recommended.
By the way, he’s promising to do another in a couple of weeks. Stay tuned.
I really enjoyed this. Hope you do, too.
Oh, nothing to see here, just a 17-minute song that Bob Dylan decided to drop on us without notice.
Alex Chilton’s words of wisdom for times like these:
There aren’t many records that pull at me the way Third / Sister Lovers still does.