[ED NOTE: This was originally published on February 14th but we’re bringing it back in honor of Bill Withers’ birthday today!]
Since the Superbowl we’ve been inundated with commercials for the video Game Dante’s Inferno.
The song featured in the clip is “Ain’t No Sunshine” by soul legend Bill Withers from his 1971 album Just As I Am. The song was released as a single in September 1971, becoming a breakthrough hit for Withers, reaching number six on the U.S. R&B chart and number three on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. It also won a best R&B song Grammy in 1972.
Withers told Songfacts.com that he was inspired to write this song after watching the 1962 movie Days of Wine and Roses. He said that “I was watching…Days Of Wine And Roses, 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.”
Many of Withers’ songs including “Sunshine,” “Lovely Day” and “Grandma’s Hands”have been sampled numerous times for popular recordings. For example, the drums alone to “Kissing My Love” have been used by at least a dozen artists including Dr. Dre. (“Let Me Ride”) and Eric B & Rakim (“The Ghetto”).
In 2009 a documentary about Withers was released aptly titled “Still Bill.” It’s a must see for any fans of music or Black history. You can find or host a screening in your area by going to stillbillthemovie.com or pre-order the DVD.