Still Bill is a lovely portrait of singer/songwriter Bill Withers (“Ain’t No Sunshine,” “Use Me,” “Lean on Me,” “Just the Two of Us,”) by documentary filmmakers Alex Vlack and Damani Baker. This DVD release examines a somewhat reluctant subject and his decision to step away for almost 25 years from, what Withers called, “the fame game.”
The movie seamlessly, and with good humor, follows Withers’ childhood in Slab Fork, WV to a Navy stint in Guam and then a job installing toilets on aircrafts in LA. He talked about liking that particular gig on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.
There are unforced appearances by Graham Nash and Sting, who thoughtfully shares his take on the songwriting process. But, the tender moments shine through when Withers expresses his struggles as an “asthmatic stutterer” — with no speech therapist like Lionel Logue from The King’s Speech hanging around Slab Fork — and his lifelong battle to feel worthy of his own talent.
If you listen and read between the lines, you will find a deeply honest man and dedicated musician. Oh, and just so you know, there are 26 “I know(s)” in “Ain’t No Sunshine.”