Recently I watched a documentary film about the life of Bill Withers. I love his music, and the film was great. He hasn’t recorded in over twenty-five years, and he’s often asked why. “I don’t want to” is his reply. Personally, I think the REAL truth is really “I don’t have to”.
Now I don’t know the man, I can’t speak for him obviously, but I am sure if you’ve written songs like “Lean on Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Just the Two of Us”– songs that are covered by hundreds of artists and played constantly on AOR (it seems like the local station I listen to sometimes, Sunny 95, plays Lean on Me at least once per hour) you don’t have to do a thing and you’ll be a multimillionaire. If you don’t buy ten Ferraris and a coupla Bentleys every year you don’t have to do anything for the rest of your life and your children’s children’s children will be set financially. From what I’ve gathered reading about Bill and watching that documentary, it seems like he was tapped out and wanted to quit the rat race. Sure it’s cool he turned his attention to being a father, but he still had a recording studio in his basement, a zillion guitars on his walls, and a grand piano in his house. I think he really didn’t want to make any more music, the road and the record brass took the will from him.
****authors note—Bill Withers and Jesse Winchester–best male vocalists of ALL TIME