Bill Withers, iconic soulful singer-songwriter has died.
Bill Withers is and was a legendary soulful singer who influenced so many different modern day artists, including myself. He sang major hits including “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Grandma’s Hands”, “Use Me”, “Lean on Me”, “Lovely Day”, and “Just the Two of Us”. My personal favorite is, “Ain’t No Sunshine”. In just a 15 year (1970 to 1985) musical span Withers altered and influenced the world as a 3-time grammy award winner. This included probably his most wide-spread and beloved hit, a number 1 hit single, “Lean On Me”.
You know one of the greatest measures of an artist’s success is how much other artist’s cover their work and Bill’s songs have been covered, reinvented and sang by countless others. For a craftsman to influence another craftsman is a great honor.
As a prophetic voice, a prophetic question plagues me through the timing of Bill Wither’s death. When I was a youngster, probably 12 years old or so we had a talent show and for the finale we sang Bill’s hit, “Lean on Me”. We all put our arms on each other’s shoulders, fifty or so of us kids. It didn’t matter the color, race or sex, we all leaned and swayed together. ‘Lean on Me’ which was released well even before my time, 1972 is more than just a hit. It is a declaration to the common man, to help his fellow common man in his hour of need. This is also a Biblical principle, Mark 12:31 states, “And the second, like it, is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” Wether Wither had gospel roots that paralleled this song isn’t totally pertinent. What is pertinent however, is that during this COVID-19 quarantine we have to ask, “Are we as humans missing the mark?” Are we hoarding and accusing instead of being a shoulder for those in need to lean upon once again? Did Wither’s passing mark a death of Mark 12:31 in our modern human nature? An era of where mankind leaning together has all but died? *Just some food for thought.
R.I.P | Bill Wither | (July 4, 1938 – March 30, 2020)