Monday, April 06, 2020

Song of the Day: 'Ain't No Sunshine' by Bill Withers

Sad to hear about the passing of the legendary Bill Withers, who withdrew from the world of music after brief career that saw him write and record some of the most enduring songs of all time, including "Lean on Me," "Use Me," "Lovely Day" (my personal fave), "Ain't No Sunshine" and "Just the Two of Us." "Just the Two of Us," a collaboration with Grover Washington Jr., was cruelly blocked from the No. 1 spot by "Morning Train (9 to 5)" by Sheena Easton and "Bette Davis Eyes" by Kim Carnes, but was rewarded with four Grammy nominations, winning for Best Rhythm & Blues Song. Withers was 81. His death, at a hospital, was announced by his family. His son, Todd, said Withers had had heart problems.

As is if often the case, I learned a lot from his obituaries, the most interesting of which was that "Ain't No Sunshine" was originally the B-side from his debut single, "Harlem." According to Songfacts, Withers was inspired to write this song after watching the 1962 movie "Days of Wine and Roses." He explained, in reference to the characters played by Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon: "They were both alcoholics who were alternately weak and strong. It's like going back for seconds on rat poison. Sometimes you miss things that weren't particularly good for you. It's just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I'm not aware of." "Harlem" was subsequently covered by The 5th Dimension, which was featured on their "Soul and Inspiration" album and released as a single.

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