Ain’t No Sunshine

“I was watching a movie called Days Of Wine And Roses (1962) with Lee Remick and Jack Lemmon. They were both alcoholics who were alternately weak and strong. It’s like going back for seconds on rat poison. Sometimes you miss things that weren’t particularly good for you. It’s just something that crossed my mind from watching that movie, and probably something else that happened in my life that I’m not aware of.”Bill Withers (35)
“The lyric was interesting to me too because I wanted to admit to losing something or someone at the time that I wrote it and I found that the words explained exactly what I was feeling at the time. It really wasn’t so much a personal thing but rather a feeling that I just wanted to get over. The funny thing is that it all fell together as I wanted it to.”Bill Withers (911)

Lean On Me

“Being from a rural, West Virginia setting, that kind of circumstance would be more accessible to me than it would be to a guy living in New York where people step over you if you’re passed out on the sidewalk, or Los Angeles, where you could die on the side of the freeway and it would probably be 8 days before anyone noticed you were dead. Coming from a place where people were a little more attentive to each other, less afraid, that would cue me to have those considerations than somebody from a different place. I think what we say is influenced by how we are, what’s been our life experiences. It’s a rural song that translates probably across demographical lines. Who could argue with the fact that it would be nice to have somebody who really was that way? My experience was, there were people who were that way. They would help you out. Even in the rural South. There were people who would help you out even across racial lines. Somebody who would probably stand in a mob that might lynch you if you pissed them off, would help you out in another way. I can think of a specific incident. When I was in the Navy, I must have been about 18, 19 years old, and I was stationed in Pensacola, Florida. It was some holiday, I had this car that I was able to buy and I was driving from Pensacola, Florida up to West Virginia. As is the case with young people with cheap cars, the tires weren’t that great, so one of my tire blew out on this rural Alabama road. This guy comes walking over the hill that looked like he was right out of the movie Deliverance. Did you see that movie? He says to me, “Oh, you had a blowout.” Well, I didn’t have a spare tire. This guy goes walking back across the hill, and I’m not too comfortable here because I know where I am. He comes back walking with a tire, and he actually helps me put the tire on the car.”Bill Withers (35)

Lovely Day

“The inspiration was the co-writer. We’re all sponges in a sense. You put us around very nice people, and the nice things come out in us. You put us around some jerks, and we practice being jerks. Did you ever notice the difference between your own personality when you’re hanging out in a room full of jocks or when you’re hanging out in a room full of Clarinet players? We all adjust. Or the difference in the way you speak to your grandmother or your best contemporary friend. So Skip Scarborough, who was a songwriter that did Earth, Wind & Fire stuff, whenever I’ve collaborated with anybody, their role is predominantly music and mine is predominantly lyrics. People seem to leave me alone with that. Skip, just the way he was – he died recently – was a very nice, gentle man. He would cause me in probing my thoughts, something would occur to me that was more like he is. The way Skip was, every day was just a lovely day. He was an optimist. If I had sat down with the same music and my collaborator had been somebody else with a different personality, it probably would have caused something else to cross my mind lyrically.”Bill Withers (35)