Bill Withers Has Released His First New Song in Over 30 Years

CLEVELAND, OH - APRIL 18: Inductee Bill Withers speaks onstage during the 30th Annual Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at Public Hall on April 18, 2015 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images)

Bill Withers is back, folks, in a strange and unexpected way. The legendary soul singer-songwriter effectively retired from the music industry in the mid-1980s. Yesterday, though, a loose new Withers track turned up on a tribute album to Little Jimmy Dickens, a Nashville country singer and raconteur who died in 2015, called The Rhinestone Hillbilly.

Withers’ song is an unusual cover of Dickens’ “(You‘ve Been Quite a Doll) Raggedy Ann,” which begins with a long, ethereal wash of strings and synth before culminating in a few, fuck-you seconds of horn-driven funk (a.k.a. what one might expect from a Withers comeback track). Most notably, you’ll hear none of Withers’ inimitable, silky singing on the track–it’s all spoken word. None of this stops it from being a bewitching, compelling recording on its own terms though, an anomaly among the other more traditional C&W stylings on the album.

Withers’ last album was 1985’s Watching You Watching Me. He was inducted into the Rock’n’Roll Hall of Fame in 2015. Stream and download “(You‘ve Been Quite a Doll) Raggedy Ann” below.

https://bandcamp.com/EmbeddedPlayer/album=2388004411/size=large/bgcol=ffffff/linkcol=0687f5/tracklist=false/artwork=small/track=4218434258/transparent=true/

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