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Music Friday Tribute: Bill Withers Explains Why Your Love is Like a Chunk of Gold

Welcome to Music Friday when we bring you classic songs with jewelry, gemstones or precious metals in the title or lyrics. Today we pay tribute to the incomparable Bill Withers, the hardscrabble singer-songwriter-musician from Slab Fork, WV, who made an everlasting mark on popular culture with a string of classics, including “Ain’t No Sunshine” (1971), “Lean on Me” (1972), “Lovely Day” (1977) and “Just the Two of Us” (1980). Withers passed away last week at the age of 81.

At the height of his popularity in 1974, Withers wrote and performed “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh,” a song about broken hearts and life’s hard-to-explain contradictions. In the first line of the tune, Wither compares his girlfriend’s love to a precious metal.

He sings, “Your love is like a chunk of gold / Hard to gain, and hard to hold / Like a rose that’s soft to touch / Love has gone, and it hurts so much.”

“The Same Love That Made Me Laugh” appeared as the second track on Withers’ album titled +’Justments (pronounced “add-justments”). The single reached #50 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 and #10 on the U.S. Billboard R&B chart. It was also a top-40 hit in Canada. In 1977, Diana Ross covered the song for her LP titled Baby It’s Me.

Born on the Fourth of July in 1938, Wither’s was the youngest of six children. He grew up in a small coal-mining town and struggled to overcome a stutter throughout his childhood and into adulthood. He enlisted in the Navy at the age of 17 and served for nine years. Withers was able to overcome his stuttering through the speech therapy he received in the Navy and through singing.

“Bill has been our friend for many years and is on our list of famous people who stutter,” noted the Stuttering Foundation in a statement released just after Withers’ death. “Like so many great singers and songwriters, such as B.B. King and Carly Simon, Bill Withers stuttered. And just as they did, he turned to singing to express himself through music because the spoken word was so tough for him. He will live on forever through his incredible songs.”

As a 29-year-old, he moved to Los Angeles to pursue a music career. Withers supported his dream by working at Lockheed Aircraft. Although he was earning just $3.50 per hour, he cobbled together $2,500 to produce demo tapes.

One of those tapes caught the attention of Clarence Avant, owner of Sussex Records, who signed Withers to a record deal. His first single, “Ain’t No Sunshine,” was a Grammy-award-winning hit. Withers was active in the music business from 1970 to 1985 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.

Please check out the audio track of Withers performing “The Same Love That Made Me Laugh.” The lyrics are below if you’d like to sing along…

“The Same Love That Made Me Laugh”
Written and performed by Bill Withers.

Your love is like a chunk of gold
Hard to gain, and hard to hold

Like a rose that’s soft to touch
Love has gone, and it hurts so much

Well and why…
Must the same love that made me laugh
Make me cry?

Well now you think of love as sitting on a mountain
Think of it as being a great big rock
Won’t you think before you started to roll it down
Because once you start it, you can’t make it stop

I’ve given all I have to give
And if you don’t want me
I don’t want to live

Well and why…
Must the same love that made me laugh?
Why you wanna make me cry?

Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?

Why you wanna make me lay in my pillow
Just cryin’ like a weeping willow

Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?

Why you wanna make me mess in my pillow
I’m just cryin’ like a weeping willow

Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?
Why you wanna make me cry?

Credit: Image by Sussex Records / Public domain.

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