The production on Just as I Am is just as tight as you’d expect an album made with Booker T. Jones to be. Withers may have been a complete rookie singer-songwriter, but the plates on this record most certainly were not. Nor were the artists who performed with Withers during the sessions (Stephen Stills, Donald “Duck” Dunn, Al Jackson Jr.), for that matter. And that all comes down to Jones’ influence.
In this final episode, we learn about the folks who helped Withers discover and perfect his signature sound — including insights from the man who actually drummed on “Better Off Dead”, the great Jim Keltner. Rolling Stone journalist Andy Greene, Jon Batiste, José James, Aloe Blacc, and Phil Cook also share insiders stories of the Withers-Jones sessions and discuss how the album’s sonic legacy continues to influence music 50 years later.
Original music by Tony Piazza.
If you missed out on previous seasons of the series or earlier episodes on Just as I Am, you can find our full The Opus archive here. You can also enter to win a Bill Withers prize pack to score vinyl, a Gibson guitar, a Sony sound system and turntable, and headphones.