Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Bill Withers: Lean on Me

Ever since I can remember, Bill Withers' Lean on Me has been one of my favorite songs. My brother and sisters and I used to sing it constantly--on car trips, while doing the dishes--getting especial pleasure from the "Call on me brother, if you need a hand" line (which is still the most fun part to sing).

I remember sitting with my brother at the old upright piano in my grandparent's guest cabin trying to figure out the chords while my mother talked about the bear she'd seen through the window. (Yes, my grandparent's guest cabin had one dusty bed, no running water, and an outhouse, but of course there was a piano. My grandmother will always be the a-house-is-not-a-home-without-music type of soul.)

The thing I love about this song is how it captures our innate, human tendency to feel like we are alone in this world. When hard times come (and boy, do they), we often try to shoulder the burdens on our own, either because we think it's heroic to "soldier on," or we don't want to bother anyone, or we just don't think anyone cares.

But the song reminds us of something we need to try very hard not to forget: we are all in this together. We need to swallow our fear and pride and acknowledge that we all need someone to lean on every once in a while. And then, we need to reach out a hand.

Here is a great live version of Bill Withers singing Lean on Me (listen closely to the lyrics, they're so simple, but they're creative genius):



Lean on Me
by Bill Withers

Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there's always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you don't let show

Lean on me, when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
'Til I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

If there is a load you have to bear
That you can't carry
I'm right up the road
I'll share your load
If you just call me

So just call on me brother, when you need a hand
We all need somebody to lean on
I just might have a problem that you'd understand
We all need somebody to lean on

Lean on me when you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Till I'm gonna need
Somebody to lean on

Lean on me...

3 comments:

Anna said...

thanks jos--thank god for sisters and brothers!

xoxo

Steph said...

Is that why we all walk crooked? From all the leaning?! xoxo

Josephine Cameron said...

:) Right. I guess the next song I need to post is "Straighten Up & Fly Right"