Singer Bill Withers on Tavis Smiley’s PBS Show

H/T to blog Put Me On It, whose proprietor is a big Withers fan.billwithers

Understand that just because I like Bill’s work, it doesn’t mean I approve of his past marital violence towards Denise Nicholas. Yeah, I’ve always thought that the stories were true, although Withers, now 71, and Nicholas have never said anything about it, anywhere. And Withers doesn’t mention it during this interview. For them, it’s ovah. Let’s face it: if that marriage was anything like one of my favorite Withers songs, “Use Me,” that some say was really about their relationship, as well as songs like, “Who Is He, and What Is He To You?” then they deserved a break-up before the marriage or an annulment sooner than the year they had together.

Bill remarried another woman, Marcia Johnson, had two children now grown, Kori and Todd, and for all intents and purposes may not have visited his previous behavior on his second wife or on their children. All three work in his song publishing company.

Denise Nicholas, 65, is now a novelist.

Nor does it mean that I’m a fan of Tavis Smiley, with his sucking up to Hillary Clinton during the last campaign, using the now-cancelled The State of the Black Union as an exercise of self-promotion and hackery to promote himself as some sort of black leader or gatekeeper. Or of his rampant egomania and his questionable corporate connections (Wells Fargo! Washington Mutual!) either.

It just means that I like Withers’ songs out of nostalgia and appreciation of his songwriting gifts. I’ll never stop loving “Lean on Me,” “Use Me,” “Can We Pretend,” “Lovely Day,” and “Grandma’s Hands.” And I’m glad Tavis decided to include him on the schedule.

~ by blksista on February 8, 2010.

2 Responses to “Singer Bill Withers on Tavis Smiley’s PBS Show”

  1. stop over analyzing things sista’. so you believe something that can’t be substantiated, referring to bill’s and denise’s alleged fight, is true? interesting. you shouldn’t have to explain liking good music.


    • It’s “fights” not fight. Many have theorized that their marital dysfunction went into his writing. This isn’t overly analyzing. As a writer myself, I know how incidents provide the fuel for creativity.

      Sorry, but I think I believe those rumors. I still think he’s a great songwriter, but I wouldn’t want to be married to him.


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