It’s time for another Battle of the Bands. Today I’m featuring Bill Wither’s song “Use Me”, one of my favorites. Give a listen to the two contenders and vote which one you like best. I’ll post the results in 6 days!
The Original version: William Harrison “Bill” Withers, Jr. (born July 4, 1938) is an American singer-songwriter and musician who performed and recorded from 1970 until 1985. He recorded several major hits, including “Lean on Me”, “Ain’t No Sunshine”, “Use Me”, “Just the Two of Us”, “Lovely Day”, and “Grandma’s Hands”. Withers won three Grammy Awards and was nominated for four more. His life was the subject of the 2009 documentary film Still Bill. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2015.
“Use Me” is a song, composed and originally recorded by Bill Withers, which was included on his 1972 album Still Bill. It was his second-biggest hit in the United States, released in September 1972, and later reaching No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart. “Use Me” also peaked at No. 2 on the soul chart for two weeks. Withers performed the song on Soul Train on November 4, 1972. Billboard ranked it as the No. 78 song for 1972. The song was certified Gold by the RIAA. The song is noted for its repeated bass figure which is heard alongside a complex rhythm in the percussion.
The song’s premise: The singer complains about the advice of friends, who seem to have made it “their appointed duty” to talk the singer out of a romantic relationship that they see as one-sided, and where the singer is “used”. But the singer has no doubt in wanting things to continue as they are, and implies that it is pleasurable enough to be “used” in that fashion that being “used up” completely would be welcome.
Here is Wither’s version, for your enjoyment only. His version is NOT part of the battle. But by all means, turn up your speakers and give it a listen. It’s soooo good!
This song was covered by a number of artists, including Mick Jagger with Lenny Kravitz contributing. The song was featured on Jagger’s third solo album “Wandering Spirit” (1993). It was his only solo album release of the 1990s. I was originally going to use their version in this battle but Mick’s pronunciation grated on me a bit so I decided to present this match-up: Aaron Neville vs. Hootie & the Blowfish. Both versions are spectacular, in my opinion.
Here’s the first contender:
Aaron Neville: Aaron Neville (born January 24, 1941, New Orleans, Louisiana) is an American R&B singer and musician. He has had four Platinum-certified albums and four Top 10 hits in the US, including three that went to #1 on Billboard’s Adult Contemporary chart. His debut single, from 1966, was #1 on the Soul chart for five weeks.
He has also recorded with his brothers Art, Charles and Cyril as The Neville Brothers and is the father of singer/keyboards player Ivan Neville. His music also features Cajun and Creole influences.
Here is his version of Use Me, featuring some fine sax and an interesting use of strings.
The second contender Hootie and the Blowfish.
Hootie & the Blowfish is an American rock band that was formed in Columbia, South Carolina in 1986 by Darius Rucker, Mark Bryan, Dean Felber, and Jim Sonefeld. As of July 2010, the band had charted sixteen singles on various Billboard singles charts and recorded five studio albums. Their 1994 debut album, Cracked Rear View, was the 16th-best-selling album of all time in the US, and was certified platinum 16 times. The group was especially popular in Canada, having three number-one singles in the country. They have sold over 21 million albums in the United States.
Here is their version of Use Me. Darius Rucker knocks it out on this one and features some nice harmonies. (This audio version shows to be almost 10 minutes long but the song is really only 4:50 long; it repeats upon the conclusion of the song. I guess it’s a two-fer, if you want to listen to it twice. I definitely didn’t mind!)
TIME TO VOTE! Which version do you like better and why? This is another battle where I’m unsure at this time as to who will get my vote. This is such a great song though so I sure won’t mind listening to each cover over and over. I hope you enjoy both versions as much as I do…
And when you’re done voting, please visit these other BOTB participants and check out their cool battles:
- Far Away Series
- Stephen T. McCarthy’s Battle of the Bands Blog
- Tossing it Out
- Mike’s Ramblings
- Curious as a Cathy
- The Sound of One Hand Typing
- dcrelief ~ Battle of the Bands
- Shady Dell Music & Memories
- Cherdo on the Flipside
- THE DOGLADY’S DEN
- Jingle Jangle Jungle
- Janie Junebug Righting and Editing
- J.A. Scott
- Holli’s Hoots and Hollers
- Quiet Laughter
- Your Daily Dose
- Evil Pop Tart