Bill Withers makes no apologies

As Is — Bill Withers makes no apologies

by Sasha Frere-Jones


The New Yorker | March 8, 2010

Photograph by Fin Costello

In 1972, a year after the release of his first album, “Just As I Am,” Bill Withers performed a song on British television. “Harlem,” the record’s first single, had done little on the charts, but radio d.j.s had picked up on its B-side. Wearing a ribbed orange turtleneck and sweating visibly, the thirty-three-year-old rookie introduced the first song he had ever written:

“Men have problems admitting to losing things,” he said. “I think women are much better at that. . . . So, once in my life, I wanted to forgo my own male ego and admit to losing something, so I came up with—” Withers began to play his acoustic guitar and sing. “Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone / It’s not warm when she’s away / Ain’t no sunshine when she’s gone / And she’s always gone too long, any time she goes away.”

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