Sunday, April 05, 2020

Just the Two of Us Festival

Round two of the recent In Memoriams is a tough one, but at least this was more natural causes and he didn't die of the damned virus.
This guy, though. Has America ever produced a finer, more beloved songwriter?
The most famous native of Slab Fork, WV didn't even begin doing music seriously until he was in his 30s.
Up to that time, he was making good money, installing toilets in commercial airliners. He always claimed he put cameras in them, but I think he was kidding. I hope he was kidding.
At the start of the 1970s, he met superstar record honcho Clarence Avant, and that set him on the path to the Hall of Fame.
Perhaps his rarest achievement is the universality of his material, which is so firmly rooted in the African-American experience, yet resonates so freely with all walks of life and living.
Eventually -- after a run of monster hits that lasted into the 1980s -- he transitioned out of the music business, which he claimed to find horrifying and anti-artist.
I can remember singing Lean On Me -- perhaps his most beloved composition -- in Glee Club in the 6th grade in 1978.
There'll probably never be another songwriter in our lifetimes that is gonna do it with the compassion, clarity and pure humanity that Bill Withers -- who passed last week from heart disease at 81 -- did.
To send him off in the style befitting an utmost legend, we'll direct your attention to this, an episode of the utterly seminal early-1970s PBS-TV program SOUL!, which finds our hero's group performing on the same show as (the also recently passed) McCoy Tyner's then-current quartet in a television time capsule you won't wanna miss.
Bill Withers
McCoy Tyner Quartet
Mae Jackson
WNET-TV Studios
New York City, NY USA

01 Ellis Haizlip intro
02 McCoy Tyner Quartet - Sahara
03 Mae Jackson poems
04 Bill Withers - I'm Her Daddy
05 Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
06 Mae Jackson poems
07 Bill Withers interviewed by Ellis Haizlip
08 McCoy Tyner Quartet- Extensions
09 Mae Jackson poems
10 Bill Withers - Grandma's Hands
11 Bill Withers - Harlem/Cold Bologna

Total time: 58:51

Bill Withers band:
Bill Withers - guitar & vocals
Melvin Dunlap - bass
Bernorce Blackman - guitar
James Gadson - drums
Mike Stokes - keyboards

McCoy Tyner Quartet:
McCoy Tyner - piano
Sonny Fortune - saxophones
Alphonse Mouzon - drums
Calvin Hill - bass

NTSC DVD of what looks like a master VHS of the original WNET pre-broadcast tape
2.22 GB NTSC DVD/April 2020 archive link
Someday, the entire five, ecstasy-inducing seasons of SOUL! will be reissued in full, but there's no need to hold your breath.
Until then, at least we have this VHS tape of the pre-broadcast U-Matic.
I shall return again tomorrow with yet more homages of interment to the fallen, and I have so many things lined up this week I might post every day!
One thing at a time, though... and the thing today is to celebrate the life and legacy of Bill Withers, who used up all his available energy and left this lonely street in a lonely town this week after giving us a lifetime's worth of impeccable songsmithing service.--J.
7.4.1938 - 3.30.2020

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