Battle of the Bands: Bill Withers’ “Use Me”

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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:

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36 thoughts on “Battle of the Bands: Bill Withers’ “Use Me”

  1. Hi, Michele!

    “It starts with a great song,” as Shady likes to say, and “Use Me” is a great song. It is my favorite Bill Withers recording, surpassing “Lean On Me,” “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Just the Two of Us.” I actually had “Use Me” scheduled for one of my own Version Sacrifices on SDMM with the song performed by English cover artist Sarah Collins but, to my dismay, she removed it from her channel. Take my word, it was fabulous.

    Today’s battle at Angels Bark is like most of your battles, Michele. You picked two very evenly matched contestants, both performing excellent renditions of the featured song, and it took me a long time to decide which I like more. In the end I decided to give my vote to Aaron Neville. Hootie’s rock version is great, but Aaron’s version is simply brilliant – a new classic. Ever since “Tell It Like It Is” I have enjoyed Aaron Neville’s New Orleans soul. Neville’s subdued vocal treatment on “Use Me” and the delicate arrangement, with judicious use of sax, organ and strings, was just right, and I thought it worked better than the louder rock treatment used on the Blowfish recording.

    Give my vote to Aaron Neville, dear friend Michele, and thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the sweet compliment Shady! I sure appreciate hearing that.
      Sorry for my late response but it’s been simply crazy here. I had to call 911 for my mom on Friday because she couldn’t breathe and was hallucinating. They took her to the Heart Hospital and she was in congestive heart failure. She stayed there for six days. Tuesday she had a drain tube put in her lung so she could drain her own fluid at home, instead of having it build up and having to go to the hospital to get tapped. It’s called a PleurX Drain. Your wife is probably familiar. We were trained yesterday on how to use it. Mom came home from the hospital yesterday. We got home late afternoon and had a nice homecoming. But this morning, I was awakened by her calling out: she had fallen getting out of bed and she ended up hitting her head. She was out of it so I called 911 again and they took her to yet another hospital to get a CAT scan. They’re keeping her for 24 hour observation and will do another CAT scan in the morning. I think she had a reaction to the Vicodin too. It’s just unbelievable, everything that’s going on here.

      Anyway, I’m just now getting to the BOTB posts and comments. I’m glad you like my song choice. I just love that Bill Withers song. I’ll have to look for Sarah Collins version.

      Thanks for casting your vote. I’ll put you down for Aaron Neville. Aren’t the strings and sax great in his version? I still don’t know who I’m voting for yet. I’m quite torn…

      Thanks for stopping by…and for letting me vent! 🙂

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  2. Great song choice, Michele! 🙂 Jagger’s vocals were awful; I’m glad you didn’t use that version. Aaron Neville was okay but I love a baritone voice. Darius Rucker and The Blowfish get my vote. Awesome harmonies too!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wasn’t Jagger’s version awful?? I really got on my nerves and there was no way I could use that version.
      I’ll put you down for Darius. Love his version too. Was just telling Shady I still don’t know who I’m going to vote for in this one. Such a great song: I could listen to it over and over again!

      Thanks for your vote Debbie!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love this song! It, too, is my favorite Bill Withers song, even beating out Just the Two of Us. As for the challenge, Aaron Neville gets my vote. I don’t think the song is meant to be so “rocky.” I listened to a minute of Jagger’s, no thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lol. Yep, about a minute of Jagger’s version was all I could stand too! 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by and voting Janet. I’ll put you down for Aaron Neville.

      Like

  4. I had forgotten what a cool song this was–hadn’t heard it in ages.

    The versions up for Battle are both good ones staying pretty true to the original. Either one is a winner, but I guess I’m going to go with Aaron Neville as I prefer his vocal style and there’s a greater smoothness to the presentation which I find more appealing.

    Tough choice!

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    Tossing It Out

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad you found this a tough choice Lee. I’m still not sure who I’m voting for.
      Thanks for your vote: I’ve got you down for Aaron Neville.

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  5. Great song choice, Michele!

    In my opinion, both are very good contenders here. It’s been forever since I’ve listened to Aaron Neville, and I had forgotten how much I really enjoyed his sound.

    But, if I’m going to vote with my gut… I’m going to give my vote to Hootie and the Blowfish. LOVE Cracked Rear View, and this version just puts a smile on my face.

    Mary
    Jingle Jangle Jungle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yay! I love being able to put a smile on someone’s face! Glad you liked the Hootie version. Thanks for your vote Mary.

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  6. Thanks for introducing me to this great song. I vote for Aaron Neville. I fell in love with his voice when he sang with Linda Rondstandt. I hope I spelled her name correctly.

    Love,
    Janie

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  7. Janie…lol.

    This is a great song; a classic. I’d fly off the handle if someone gave it a subpar delivery, ha ha. It wouldn’t be right, I tell ya!

    I’d never heard the Hootie and the Blowfish version of this. I really like it! They get my vote today, friend (but all were great versions…it’s hard to guess the outcome of this battle).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Cherdo. Another vote for Hootie and the Blowfish gang. Don’t you love that name?? 🙂
      Thanks for stopping by to vote!

      Like

  8. Love this song. Aaron Neville is his usual, sultry- sounding self. Also I liked his sax better than Hootie’s.

    Have fun with your battle, Michele!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oh how I love Bill Withers. My Favorite song of his is “Lean on Me” but I also love, love, love “Aint No Sunshine.” I don’t think I ever heard this song. I loved Aaron Neville but I am voting for Hootie and the Blow Fish. That song was so sweet to listen to and I liked ttheir style!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I’m so glad you liked the song Paula! This is going to be a tight battle I think. Another vote for Hootie and those Blowfish!
      Thanks for coming by to vote…

      Like

  10. Damn, MICHELE! What a GREAT Battle!

    I’d never heard either of these recordings before, and listening to Aaron Neville first – it was so Soulful (loved the percussion, the sax and organ flourishes) – I figured there was no chance in hell that I’d be voting against it. But…

    Hokey-Smoke! Hootie SMOKED it!

    That HOOTIE & THE BLOWFISH version had ever’thing goin’ on for it! And there was that periodic “double-honk” on a baritone sax that just totally sealed the deal.

    Wow! Quite possibly my favorite of your BOTBs thus far. Total winner, winner, KFC dinner!

    Very sorry to hear about your dear Ma’s condition. I’m big on The Big Man and His Son, and I’ll say a prayer for her.

    ~ D-FensDogG
    ‘Loyal American Underground’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Stephen! I’m thrilled that you liked my battle so much. It always makes me happy when people enjoy my battles so thank you. It’s such a great song and I’m glad that both versions do it justice. I’ll put you down for Hootie and the Blowfish.

      And thank you so much for the prayer for my mom. We need all the prayers we can get and I’m a big believer in the power of prayer. I’m very grateful for your thoughts and prayers. Thank you. Going to pick her up from the hospital sometime today…as soon as the Dr goes by and gives the discharge order. Will be good to have her back home. I just don’t know how they’re going to manage on their own when they go back to North Carolina (where they live). I know they want to be back in their home, I totally get that, but I think it’s come time that they sell the house and move in with me so I can take care of them. That’s a big hurdle to jump so all remains to be seen. But I think my mom is finally coming to the realization that they need help…

      Thanks again. XOXO

      Like

  11. This was a fantastic battle, Michelle. Two really great contenders who really did this song justice. Seriously. Wowza.

    I thought I’d go with Hootie & the Blowfish. I’ve liked those fellas for a very long time. BUT, Aaron Neville just stole my heart with his version on that first go and even though Hootie and the boys were smokin’ they never quite got it back (though it was darn close there at times). This is one sensual song and Aaron sensualed it right down to the core… if you know what I mean. I felt rather used up by the end. So, give Aaron my vote. That boy deserves it!!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Robin. So happy that you liked my battle. I just love this song and I could listen to the original and both cover versions all day long! Like I’ve said here, I still don’t know who I’m voting for. I’m way torn.
      Thanks for stopping by and voting. I’ll put you down for Aaron Neville. Sensual is right!

      Like

  12. This is a great song. In fact it inspired me to check out Amazon and look for a CD. I’ve been trying to flesh out my CD collection and purchasing this CD let me to purchasing a few more CD’s, all from the 60s. As for the battle, Aaron Nevile does a great job but I think Hootie and the Blowfish do an amazing job. I’m placing my vote with them.
    I hate to admit it, but after Cracked Rear View I lost touch with Hootie and the Blowfish. But at least I do have that album, which i love.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That is a great album! I love Hootie and the Blowfish. Glad my battle inspired you to spend money! 🙂 It’s always fun buying music…

      Thanks for stopping by to vote Jeffrey. I’ll put you down for Hootie…

      Like

  13. Michele, this is a tough choice. Both contenders do a fabulous job. Neville’s vocals are a bit interesting and the vibe is kinda funky cool, which I liked. However, I think Darius has a smoother voice and the more rock flavor of the music won me over in the end. Give my vote to Hootie and the Blowfish Great battle!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Cathy! Darius does have a way with this song, doesn’t he?
      Thanks for coming by to vote: I’ll put you down for Hootie & the Blowfish.
      Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

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