For me, Bill Withers was one of the greats.
An instantly recognisable voice, with one of the longest recorded singing notes (on Lovely Day) and a songwriter who packed a such a powerful punch in a three-minute piece of music.
Ain’t No Sunshine, Just the Two of Us, Grandma’s Hands I could listen to Bill singing them again and again.
Use Me was a number one of my early bands play in our live set
I don’t know about Bill’s ancestors, but in this quote I reckon Bill was saying his lyrical talent was inherited.
From his family? Or culture ? Or both?
Bill may have been making a cultural point here too, saying that the tradition of slaves in the cotton fields, chain gangs in black American history led to gospel music and the blues.
I always admired how up-front Bill was in his interviews, mentioning his heritage and the disadvantages black people had to work through many times.
He worked in an aircraft factory getting into the music business later on in his life.
He never forgot his working class and cultural roots
Early on in my life I spent a year working in tea factory-very English- and I saved the money from my shifts to buy my first professional acoustic guitar-an Ovation Custom Balladeer, which later travelled round the world with me.
Another great poet Rudyard Kipling wrote in If
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings—nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run—
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son
Bill Withers walked with the kings in the music world.
But never lost the common touch.