12 Songs, 35 Minutes

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time Withers recorded his debut, 1971’s Booker T.-helmed Just as I Am, he was a well-lived 32-year-old who had done time in both the armed forces and factories. The album is, without reservation, one of the greatest, most personal soul LPs ever recorded. Mixing ’70s-style singer-songwriter confessionals with ’60s Southern soul, it crossed genres and racial boundaries, topping both the pop and R&B charts, and defining a moment in early ’70s music. The huge “Ain’t No Sunshine” draws you in and then Withers’ grabs you with everyday truths, which populated the other tunes — culminating on “Better Off Dead,” where an alcoholic commits suicide after drinking away his woman and life. Yes, his songs are fraught with melancholy and sadness, sometimes with zero redemptive qualities; they’re very vérité in a sense, like life. The album feels and sounds like it had to be made, that other options were none for a West Virginian son from a tiny coal-mining town who grew up in a world of railroad yards, welfare lines, and deceitful congregations.

Mastered for iTunes

EDITORS’ NOTES

By the time Withers recorded his debut, 1971’s Booker T.-helmed Just as I Am, he was a well-lived 32-year-old who had done time in both the armed forces and factories. The album is, without reservation, one of the greatest, most personal soul LPs ever recorded. Mixing ’70s-style singer-songwriter confessionals with ’60s Southern soul, it crossed genres and racial boundaries, topping both the pop and R&B charts, and defining a moment in early ’70s music. The huge “Ain’t No Sunshine” draws you in and then Withers’ grabs you with everyday truths, which populated the other tunes — culminating on “Better Off Dead,” where an alcoholic commits suicide after drinking away his woman and life. Yes, his songs are fraught with melancholy and sadness, sometimes with zero redemptive qualities; they’re very vérité in a sense, like life. The album feels and sounds like it had to be made, that other options were none for a West Virginian son from a tiny coal-mining town who grew up in a world of railroad yards, welfare lines, and deceitful congregations.

Mastered for iTunes
TITLE TIME

Ratings and Reviews

4.9 out of 5
40 Ratings
40 Ratings
Roboforce

Hope She'll be Happier

While the whole album is great, "Hope She'll be Happier" is frankly THE best song every written. The depth, emotion and simplicity of the song is indescribable. Bill Withers is a genious. A deeply soulful and talented man.

TSTRICK

The Best ALL AROUND!!!!

Bill Withers is FINALLY inducted into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame (04/15/15) and this album is perhaps the primary reason. While his entire discography houses some amazing work, it was "Just As I Am" that got the people's attention. To this day, "Ain't No Sunshine" is still in constant rotation (even if on Hippie radio). "Harlem" has been one of my favorite songs since I could remember and I'm still haunted (yet fascinated) by the gunshot in "Better Off Dead". Sweet Wanomi and Nilson's "Everybody's Talkin'" make the whole album totally worth the listen. Congratulations to my favorite singer/songwriter of all time...Rock n Roll Hall of Famer, Mr. Bill Withers. -TJ

AKbrain

Perfect

Perfect pitch, perfect harmony...just...perfect. Thank you, Mr Withers.

About Bill Withers

Singer/songwriter Bill Withers took soul music in a radically introspective direction in the early '70s, reviving the world-weary storytelling of the blues and embracing the autobiographical intimacy of folk rock. Already shaped by a lifetime of racial injustice and emotional upheaval by the time he first entered the studio in his early thirties, the West Virginia-born Withers applied hard-won, humanistic wisdom to sketches of striving city dwellers ("Harlem"), estranged fathers ("I'm Her Daddy"), and anguished alcoholics ("Better Off Dead”) with a voice that could soothe or scald. Bringing that same maturity to soul's greatest subject, Withers could revel in the small moments that make love feel sublime ("Lovely Day”), capture the devastation of a relationship’s regrets ("Ain't No Sunshine”), and offer inspiration while reaching out to a friend in need (“Lean on Me”). He left an undeniable stamp on socially conscious, intimately personal R&B singer/songwriters like Anthony Hamilton and D'Angelo, freeing them to mine life's deepest pleasures and darkest pains while finding poetry in day-to-day struggle.

HOMETOWN
Slab Fork, WV
BORN
July 4, 1938

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