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Still Bill

4.8 out of 5 stars 77 customer reviews

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(Jan 25, 2011)
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Still bill is an intimate portrait of soul legend bill withers; best known for his classics "ain't no sunshine;" "lean on me;" "lovely day;" "grandma's hands;" and "just the two of us." with his soulful delivery and warm; heartfelt sincerity; withers has written the songs that continue to resonate deeply within the fabric of our times. Filmmakers damani baker and alex vlack follow withers and offer a unique and rare look inside the world of this fascinating man. Through concert footage; journeys to his birthplace and interviews with music and sports legends; his family and closest friends; still bill presents the story of an artist who has written some of the most beloved songs in our time and who truly understands the heart and soul of a man.

By pop music standards, singer-songwriter Bill Withers started his career late (he was in his early 30s), retired relatively early (in his mid-40s), and was never exactly prolific even during his active years. But as Still Bill, a 2008 documentary, reminds us, Withers managed to turn out a catalogue that included several bona fide classics ("Ain't No Sunshine," "Lean on Me," "Just the Two of Us") and a handful of others that aren't far behind ("Lovely Day," "Use Me," "Grandma's Hands")--and he did it all on his own terms. Born in tiny Slab Fork, West Virginia, Withers had served in the navy and was working for an aircraft manufacturer, building toilets for 747s, when he decided to try his hand at music in the early '70s. Despite having never played an instrument, written a tune, or sung in public, he did all right, to say the least; his first single was "Ain't No Sunshine," which won a Grammy and put him on TV with Johnny Carson, Dinah Shore, and many others. His style was distinctive from the get-go; his songs, featuring funky beats and his own acoustic guitar and smart, simple lyrics delivered in a voice that was both gruff and sensitive, were blues-drenched but not R&B, soulful but not Soul, per se. More hits followed, but Withers hasn't released anything since 1985 (although we do see him collaborating with Cuban musician Raúl Midón and puttering around in a home studio filled with fancy high-tech equipment that he confesses he barely knows how to operate). Part of that is due to his unwillingness to let anyone, especially the meddling white record company execs he refers to as "blaxperts," tell him what to do. But mostly, Withers simply wasn't driven to keep working and performing; music didn't define him, and as we see him today (he turned 70 during production of the documentary), he seems completely relaxed and at ease with his decision. Various friends and admirers, from Sting and Angélique Kidjo to Tavis Smiley, philosopher-author-activist Cornel West, and sports legends Jim Brown, Bill Russell, and Bernie Casey (the latter are seen in one of the bonus features), talk to and about Withers; we also hear from daughter Kori, herself a musician. But in the end it's all about the music, and the best bits are the generous live performances, many from TV appearances back in the day, in which Withers performs his songs. It's a safe bet that anyone who doesn't already own this music will be hitting the nearest download button after watching this delightful film. --Sam Graham

Product Details

  • Actors: Bill Withers, Clarence Avant, Benorce Blackmon, Cornell Dupree, James Gadsen
  • Directors: Damani Baker, Alex Vlack
  • Producers: Damani Baker, Alex Vlack, Andrew Zuckerman, Jon Fine, Prudence Arndt
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Docurama
  • DVD Release Date: January 25, 2011
  • Run Time: 76 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B0042EJDJY
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #63,112 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Still Bill" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Byrd VINE VOICE on January 28, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
First, let me say that I love Bill Withers! So when I stumbled upon this film on Amazon I didn't know what to expect. After all, I'm pretty up on documentaries since I run a program that funds them, yet I knew nothing of this film. I thought, "How can that be? It's probably not very good." But because I'm a huge fan of Mr. Withers, I decided to order the DVD and take a chance. Well, I could not have been more pleased! WHAT A TERRIFIC FILM!!! I love this man even more after watching it than I did before, which I didn't think was possible. But he is such a great human being - so emotionally vulnerable and honest - and so caring about his family and people in general that my admiration for him grew exponentially. I could only hope to be half as decent as he. He's also very quick-witted and profoundly intelligent, although his modesty would likely compel him to disagree. Spending the ninety-minutes with him while watching this film has left me with such warmth for him, his music and his very inspiring view of life. I have dealt with many of the self-doubt and low self-esteem issues he has and to this day find myself continuing to struggle with some of them, but seeing this film has left me viewing the sky as a little bit bluer and the grass a little greener. THANK YOU, MR. WITHERS! YOU ARE A GREAT, GREAT, GREAT MAN!!!!
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Format: DVD
"Ain't No Sunshine", "Grandma's Hands", "Lean On Me", "Use Me", "Lovely Day", "Just The Two Of Us" -- All songs that resonate with such truth and authenticity by singer/songwriter Bill Withers. But after his 1985 album "Watching You, Watching Me", Withers disappeared from the music scene. Few knew what happened and why Withers walked away from such a successful career. The incredible documentary STILL BILL provides insight not only to the artist behind this music, but also what kind of human being Bill Withers is.

Filmmakers Damnani Baker and Alex Vlack spent over three years first trying to contact their intensely private subject and then arranging to shoot & compile footage for the documentary as they slowly gained his trust. The result is an inspiring glimpse into the life of a man dedicated to his family but also still conflicted by his artistic legacy and the creative struggle of what place his new music would have in todays world. The film takes us on a journey back through Withers' brilliant career as well as forward with a visit to his hometown, his high school reunion, recording sessions, tribute concerts and more. The interviews reveal a man of profound wisdom, feeling, humor and integrity. Particularly touching is the relationship between Bill and his daughter Kori, a singer/songwriter in her own right.

I cannot endorse this fantastic documentary enough as it manages to show, regardless of his age, the kind of artist the music industry is sorely in need of today
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We got to preview this film and were SO impressed! Bill Withers and his exemplary music are two things so many people have taken for granted over the years, so it's a pleasure to meet the man and explore his life, ideas and the feedback from his family, personal friends and friends in the music business.

Most people have a particular "comfort" food, like macaroni and cheese or pork 'n beans on toast; something so good, but so simple. Bill Withers' work is "comfort music" for everyone. And it is as relevant now as when it first debuted, thirty or so years ago! C'mon, Bill, please record some new offerings and we'll listen and love it! Looking forward to owning this DVD, too!
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Whether you know it or not, you have been influenced by Bill Withers. His unique songwriting and singing helped to define an era in American music history. Longtime admirers, the filmmakers wanted to find out what Bill has been up to and decided to do something about it. In this film they take us along for the ride. And what a ride it is. It turns out that Bill is not just an interesting musician, but also an interesting man. One can quibble with the film's choices; for instance another reviewer laments that the various snippets of Withers in Slab Fork, at his Navy reunion, or at his tribute concert are too short and unrevealing, but I disagree. The majority of the movie is spent at Withers' house in Los Angeles and consists of interviews, discussions and short segments of Bill dispensing generous amounts of wisdom from various locations inside his very comfortable (and I use that adjective in its best sense) home. These segments reveal him to be a thoughtful, sensitive, wise, warm and generous man and not only help to explain much of his music but also shed genuine philosophical insight. And can I just say how beautiful his wife and children are?

We live in a world of artificial truths and artificial people. This film reveals him to be exactly what you thought and felt upon hearing his music: a deeply rooted and dignified tree standing tall and lovingly in the forest.
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By q on February 1, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
So here's where the reviews are hiding! (Originally posted on the rental page).

My goodness, what can i say about this phenomenal, artistic, poetic, and just humble & simple man? i always had this fascination with what i call a deep simpleness to him and his music, but this film made my admiration just topple over. He made me laugh my butt off, and cry my butt off too (and i didn't expect to). His experiences and takes on life sound so much like mines (and my father's) that i just kept shaking my head in disbelief.

We praise the men with awards and ribbons, and with language of intense-scholars, and we praise the bad asses for defying a norm. Well how about praising the men and women who's "mind's eye is so clear" and resonates with people so well, we remember just who were are? Where an artist doesn't need to provide you an escape of colorful gimmicks, fancy dance steps, but just a voice and the words of the local friend from down the block?

Why is simplicity in art so underrated when it's the essence of who we are???

i don't know about you, but i an dig it. i can dig all of what Bill Withers had to say. i wish he was an uncle of mines. So much to consider from this. Family, friends, love, music, motivation, ridicule, basically life.

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