Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Still Bill"

"Still Bill" is a documentary about Bill Withers, with Withers at 70 looking back at his life. It's an unusually pleasant film, gentle, thoughtful, and just nice.

This is the story of Wither's break into the music business at the age of 32, his determination to keep his music straightforward and simple, his unwillingness to cover race defining songs, his devotion to family and his relaxed striving for self-awareness. Any possible areas of controversy are left to the viewer's angst, as the film gives the tools but does not waste energy or emotion on strident commentary.

In an interview with Cornel West and Tavis Smiley, they try to bait Withers into some kind of agitation, but he will have none of it. He either turns their rhetorical questions around and politely throws them back, or he simply refuses to answer. In one sense the almost always obnoxious West seems like a mistake, but in another sense it brings out the character and mindset of Withers in a way that could not be achieved otherwise.

This story of an aging man's look back is full of both fond and painful memories but bitterness or regret is not part of it. He is comfortable with his achievements even as he withdrew from the spotlight over 20 years ago. He reflects that life can be "alright" and that may be as far as it goes. For him he had the next step of life being "wonderful" for a number of years and he appreciates it.

This short film is worth a look.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone told me that the guy who wrote "I've Been Hurt" and other great songs for the Tams and others was living in a cardboard box in Atlanta. This was some years ago. Hope it wasn't true.

7:22 PM  
Blogger John Borden said...

Hey Anonymous,

No idea what your comment has to do with this post on ENS. They are both black? they both wrote good songs? If this rumored fact is true it would certainly be sad but... what's the point?

12:01 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home