As one of only nine songs to become a number 1 hit for two different artists, there’s something about “Lean On Me” that just stands out. Bill Withers’ penned the song in 1972, following a move to Los Angeles that left him missing the community-driven life that he left in his coalmining town in West Virginia. His ache for togetherness led him to craft one of the most simple and poignant songs about friendship to ever exist.
What “Lean On Me” does is speak to the human condition in a way that few songs can. Musically it is unassuming, subtle, and has a great groove, allowing the power of the lyrics to nearly slip by. Indeed, the song didn’t even truly hit me until I heard it during an interfaith worship service. Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, and more had gathered, and this song was picked for worship as one that everyone could relate to. As I saw all of these different people coming together in support of one another, the power of the song overtook me and left a mark on my life from that point forward.
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