Hump Day Slow Jam of the Week: Bill Withers, "Use Me"



The Singer: Bill Withers is an odd success story in the annals of soul music. His singing style is affecting but often understated, the instrumentation in his songs was often minimal, and his persona was so low-key that he often seemed to fade into the background of his own songs. His hits -- "Lean on Me," "Just the Two of Us," "Lovely Day" -- still stand as upbeat, uplifting soul songs, but he got funky and a little raw with 1972's "Use Me."

The Song: Slow jams often feature duplicitous paramours and faithless lovers, but few songs sing the praises of a shady lady like "Use Me." Built around a prickly clavinet bassline and rimshot-heavy drumming, "Use Me" lays a simple groove for Withers' tale of barely-coded carnal delight.

The Video: Taken from some long-forgotten live music show, today's clip shows Withers literally sweating out the lyric's intensity as his bandmates hold down the groove. To my ears, this version is a little slower a touch more stilted than the recorded version, but Withers puts a little more fire into this performance.

Hipster Cachet: According to the song's Wikipedia entry, "Use Me" has been recorded by numerous acts, including Grace Jones and My Brightest Diamond. A live recording of Fiona Apple's vibraphone-heavy take is below:

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