I was fortunate enough to go to a screening of Still Bill this week at IFC, where the seriously charming Bill Withers himself gave a Q&A afterwards and doled out such wisdom as “trust your feelings, and take advantage of your virility” to a young man wanting career tips. The film stops showing on Tuesday, but the filmmakers have made it possible to screen it yourself for just the cost of shipping. I’d recommend it; it’s a great film, and not just for those who love the sweet stylings of Bill in his mock-turtleneck era. It’s a calm, honest, compact portrait of an artist, down to what it means to walk away or to be depressed by a thing you created for yourself, but has shape-shifted beneath you. It’s the sort of documentary that goes down easy and fast, with very little bloating and the pleasant aftertaste of something barely ripe.
To put things in perspective, and this I didn’t know, Withers didn’t even pick up a guitar to write songs until his mid-30s. He says in the film, “I had a whole life before I was a musician, and I liked it.”
And here’s Bill.