I saw a great link a few minutes ago about Bill Withers, and it bought back a flood of memories. It was 1972 when I first heard that voice. I was living on the streets, working illegally in a KFC restaurant, I was way underage, but it was the city and truly nobody cared much.
It was one of the better jobs I had during that period of living on the streets: Sleeping in abandoned buildings, doing all the other compromising things people who live that way have to do.
Working there meant free food at the end of the shift. In those days whatever was left over went in the garbage, except it didn’t, we, those of us working that night, split what was left. Most nights that wasn’t a lot. If you had a lot left over you would get fired, so not a lot, but enough to be able to eat.
Back then we hand breaded all the chicken and cooked it in pressure cookers on a long line of burners. Man, you had to be careful, burns were frequent, and it’s not like you could report it or go to a hospital.
The hours were crazy lone too, and so we had a radio in that hot kitchen and listened to rock, blues, funk, just about anything you could imagine.
I was breading chicken and keeping an eye on the pressure cooker gauges and the clock: Working with a kid about my age who was also illegal. It was hot, steamy, we were tired, it was a popular KFC in the city of Rochester NY, so since we were low on the rank , not even legal, we got stuck with all the crap work, like breading, and the dangerous work, like tending those pressure cookers.
Head down, concentrate on the work, watch the clocks, make sure the apron is on before you go near those pots, hot oil, steam, no apron and you would get burned every time.
So, head down, not talking, and Bill Withers comes on with Lean On Me. After we got the sense of the song we were humming along, and singing the chorus. The song was that good, that different, that special: It addressed feelings, most rock hadn’t started doing that yet.
Every night after that when it would come on we would be singing at the top of our lungs: Didn’t even know each other, but there we were, singing, smiling, and feeling good…
Here a story about Bill Withers that I found earlier that started that whole reminiscing thing, Dell…
Bill Withers: The Soul Man Who Walked Away: https://getpocket.com/explore/item/bill-withers-the-soul-man-who-walked-away