Thursday, June 23, 2005:

Bill Withers

Bill Withers -- Sweet Wanomi
Bill Withers -- Then You Smile At Me
Something about posting all these things that are out of print ... it's nice to be able to post something and say "look, this here is in print, and it deserves to be." So. Some things today that are in print and deserve to be.

"Then You Smile at Me" is an open, friendly sort of song: strings, bass, baritone sax, and a bit of exuberance. The track's off Menagerie, Withers' next album after Sussex went under and he switched to Columbia.

"Sweet Wanomi," off the Just As I Am half of Just As I Am/Still Bill, is another summery song, an uncomplicated track about a solid relationship. The pacing, the guitar, and the keyboards are all sweet, and the lyrics are too.

Both of these are chipper tracks, though Withers had some others that weren't so happy: songs about prostitution, or loss, or relationships in trouble. I'd considered posting "Grandma's Hands"--a sad and touching song: short, respectful, full of love. "Hope She'll Be Happier" is a slow one about a failed relationship; even the instrumentation conjures loneliness; "Moanin' And Groanin'" is a soulful track with a loose funk to it; "Lonely Town, Lonely Street" is a classic; "Who Is He (And What Is He To You)" is a suspicious, even paranoid, number about a tense relationship. And I think it says something for the crew's cleverness and creativity that they can take something like "Let It Be" (a somber, arguably leaden and ponderous, track) and reinvent it, with the guitar and the handclaps telegraphing buoyance and joy. But I'm going with the summery feel today, because it's warming up and we've had some beautiful days.

I would have been happy posting ten or twenty Withers tracks today, but in a miracle of restraint I won't. I'll just say that if you're one of the people who bought Bill Withers' best-of comp, you're missing out. 'Justments, Withers' catalogue's red-headed stepchild, has some great work on it (or, as a former professor might say, "some nice moments")--e.g. "Heartbreak Road," which I posted some time back, and "Can We Pretend." The man's got talent. He's worth a deeper look than you get on the best-of collection. Menagerie is solid; and then Just As I Am and Still Bill are jaw-dropping, brilliant work.

And a repost from the yousendits, to kick off a short sweet mix. Billy Preston -- Sweet Marie, previously covered here.
[] Just As I Am/Still Bill
[] Menagerie

Does anyone know if there's a way to have Blogger auto-post certain entries at certain times? I'm about to be away for two weeks and I'm writing up some posts to go in while I'm away.


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