Still Bill – Wotta Guy………….

There are times, like now, when I feel that there’s just not much point in anything. Not a stark, need-to-seriously-contemplate-checking-out-of-life type thing (‘though I’ve had a few of those moments in my time), but more of a general frustration at life’s bad timing and general ‘suckiness’.Errant technology, life’s minutiae, the little irritants & peeves, continued & conflicting demands, petty dramas & drama queens, draining your energy & taking up your time. |So much so, you look back & say “what the HELL have I actually done? Why do I put up with this @$!£ ?”

I’ve felt like this for a while, then I saw the documentary ‘Still Bill: The Bill Withers Story’ on the BBC iPlayer. This is one seriously cool guy.

He grew up in a (essentially) rural backwater in the Southern USA, with a stutter he didn’t lose until his 20’s in a period of intense social change becoming a recording star in his 30’s after being told he was too old. His outlook, as a consequence of his upbringing, reflects the type of personality I wish I had or the person I should aspire to be.

He simply stopped at what some would call at the peak of his popularity. He always said he never quit; he simply decided to do something else. Considering the number and range of jobs, including engineer, military serviceman, making aircraft toilets, before becoming a singer/songwriter, this isn’t exactly the talk of a bitter & twisted has-been (although at times the cynic in him did lay close to the surface).

That said, his apparent contrary nature always seemed rooted in a straightforward, pragmatic honesty. His erm, withering take on the nature of ‘celebrity culture’, working with other musicians (including his daughter); indeed talking to his children, he’s direct but fair & honest. One of the things he said stuck with me: “In order to be great, or even good at anything you have to pass through ‘Alright’ & when you get to ‘Alright’,stop & take a good look around, because it may be the best you’re gonna get.”

 

And yet, when he went to a  centre for children with speech impediments, his concern & support of those students was all too evident, in complete contrast to his discussion with the interviewers elsewhere in the film.

 

Watching it  hasn’t stopped me from being grumpy, but at least it helped give me a sense of perspective. That & I don’t stay too mad too long.

 

Too bad he couldn’t adopt me.

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