I don’t know why most people think of slow, spare, acoustic songs as the most moving ones but I’ve never, ever bought that line. Case in point: This song, a lush, funky, beat-heavy tune from 1977. It can always stop me in my tracks. It gets me wistful, teary, and hopeful every time. Bill Withers sings of how his love lifts him up from his melancholy, from the sunlight hurting his eyes, from the feeling that everyone in the world understands how it works except for him. It’s a love song borne of hope; hope is borne from the need for a better day; because today is often wavering and painful. I know that feeling. You do, too. So, it’s an adult’s love, sung in a seemingly casual way that undercuts its world-weariness but it’s also a piece that soars until, by the end, Withers is sustaining a note for twenty seconds at a time. When I heard this song, for the first time in a decade, while in Birmingham yesterday, I couldn’t help but dance, cry, and laugh. Come to think of it, that’s a pretty good description of what love does to us, isn’t it?
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