POP / Riffs: Norman Cook, of Freak Power, on Bill Withers' 'Lovely Day'

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'I LOVE this song so much I had a tape of it played when I got married. It comes from that great period in Motown after the Sixties and all the drugs, when the artists rejected the pop production- line idea and started writing and producing the albums they wanted, hence Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Stevie Wonder's Inner Visions. Bill Withers came along then and was soon typical of the new breed of singer- songwriter. He even used a lot of acoustic guitar, which wasn't very common in R&B music at the time.

It's very pure and optimistic: 'When I wake up in the morning and the sunlight hurts my eyes / And something without warning bears heavy on my mind / Then I look at you / And I know the world's all right with me / Just one look at you / And I know it's gonna be, a lovely day.' It starts with this killer syncopated bassline which everybody knows, but the funky rhythm track is softened by the strings. It's a standard verse-chorus-verse- chorus structure, only the chorus has this amazing bit where he holds the word 'da- a-y' for 16 bars. You can't help but sing along.

The only problem is the song's too short - I would never dare to remix it, unlike Ben Liebrand, who made it into a horrible pop-funk record. It's already perfect. It's in my will to be played at my funeral too.'

'Lovely Day' is on the 'Greatest Hits of Bill Withers'

(CBS CD32343)

(Photograph omitted)