Songcraft: Conversations with Great Songwriters
About This Show
In-depth interviews with the creators of lyrics and music that stand the test of time. You probably know their names, and you definitely know their songs. We bring you their stories.
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Ep. 80 - WILLIAM BELL ("Born Under a Bad Sign")
A legendary recording artist and songwriter for the Memphis–based Stax label, William Bell first found success with his own recording of “You Don’t Miss Your Water,” a song that would go on to be covered by Otis Redding, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Byrds, and others. He found chart success in the ‘60s and ‘70s with additional self-penned singles, such as the Top 20 hits “Everybody Loves a Winner,” “A Tribute to a King,” “Private Number,” and “Tryin’ to Love Two,” which hit #1 on the R&B chart and #10 on the pop chart. His Top 10 R&B hit “I Forgot to Be Your Lover” went on to be covered by Billy Idol as the Top 10 pop hit, “To Be a Lover,” and was reinvented once again when Jaheim sampled it in “Put That Woman First,” a Top 5 R&B hit and Top 20 pop hit in 2004. In 2016 Bell returned to the re-formed Stax label to release This Is Where I Live, an album of primarily original songs that featured William’s own interpretation of “Born Under a Bad Sign,” which was originally recorded by Albert King and went on to become a blues standard that was named one of the “500 Songs that Shaped Rock & Roll” by the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A partial list of artists who’ve recorded titles from the William Bell songbook includes Lou Rawls, Percy Sledge, Big Mama Thornton, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Rod Stewart, Etta James, LaVern Baker, Dusty Springfield, Carole King, Linda Ronstadt, Melissa Etheridge, Robert Cray, and Sturgill Simpson. Additionally, his songs have been sampled by Ludacris, Kanye West, and others. Bell was inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and the Memphis Music Hall of Fame. He was honored with the R&B Pioneer Award by The Rhythm and Blues Foundation, and the W.C. Handy Heritage Award from the Memphis Music Foundation. In 2016 the Americana Music Association honored him with its Lifetime Achievement Award. The following year he earned his first Grammy award for This Is Where I Live, which was named Americana Album of the Year.