Tag Archives: black music

RIP Bill Withers (1938 – 2020)

Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?” (1972)

Bill Withers was an American singer-songwriter known for songs such as “Lean on Me”, “Use Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine”.

I give you “Who Is He (And What Is He to You)?” (1972) because it’s one of the best adultery songs ever with the unforgettable opening lines:

A man we passed just tried to stare me down
And when I looked at you
You looked at the ground

While researching this death, I came across a rather smart piece of music criticism by the American author Robert Christgau (born 1942):

“Withers sang for a black nouveau middle class that didn’t yet understand how precarious its status was. Warm, raunchy, secular, common, he never strove for Ashford & Simpson-style sophistication, which hardly rendered him immune to the temptations of sudden wealth—cross-class attraction is what gives ‘Use Me’ its kick. He didn’t accept that there had to be winners and losers, that fellowship was a luxury the newly successful couldn’t afford.