Sheryl Crow has released a roots-rock cover of ‘Lonely Town, Lonely Street’ as a loving tribute to soul legend Bill Withers, who passed away 30 March. The cover, which was recorded prior to Withers’ passing, features vocals by Citizen Cope and was produced by Steve Jordan. Withers’ original version of the song appeared on his best-selling 1972 sophomore LP, Still Bill, which also featured one of his most iconic hits, ‘Lean On Me’.
In a touching press release statement, Crow said, “I love Bill Withers. His passing last week was a heavy blow, on top of the challenges we’re all facing just trying to live day to day right now.” She added, “Times like these remind us about what’s really important in life – love, family, living life in harmony with each other and our planet. Bill’s music was about that, and so much more. In loving memory, I am releasing one of my favourite Bill Withers songs that I recorded with Citizen Cope and Steve Jordan a while back, ‘Lonely Town, Lonely Street.’”
The singer-songwriter went on to share a personal story about Withers. “After making incredible, beautiful, funky records like ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, ‘Grandma’s Hands’, ‘Use Me’, and ‘Lean on Me’, Bill got tired of the music business and stopped recording in 1985. When I was fortunate enough to meet him, I begged him to make music again and he replied, ‘I am a stonemason now and I am good at it!’ He told me he was happy and didn’t want to make music anymore.”
A beloved icon of soul and R&B music, Bill Withers released just eight studio albums before walking away from the spotlight in 1985, but he left an indelible mark on the music world and the culture at large, with songs like ‘Lean On Me’, ‘Use Me’, ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’, ‘Lovely Day’ and ‘Just The Two Of Us’ (with Grover Washington Jr). Withers, who passed away from heart complications, was 81.
Sheryl Crow, meanwhile, recently released what she is proclaiming to be her final studio full-length, Threads. The acclaimed duets album pairs Crow with some of music’s biggest names, including Bonnie Raitt, Mavis Staples, Margo Price, Keith Richards and James Taylor.