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"Lean on Me"
Single by Bill Withers
from the album Still Bill
Released June 1972
Genre Soul
Length 4:17
Label Sussex Records
Writer(s) Bill Withers
Producer Bill Withers
Bill Withers singles chronology
"Grandma's Hands" "Lean on Me" "Use Me"
"Lean on Me"
Single by Club Nouveau
from the album Life, Love and Pain
Released January 1987
Length 5:57 (original album version)
Label King Jay
Writer(s) Bill Withers
Producer Jay King

"Lean on Me" is a popular song performed by Bill Withers on the 1972 album Still Bill.

It was his first (and only) number one on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100.[1] It is ranked number 205 on the Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.[2] Numerous cover versions have been recorded, and it is one of only nine songs to have scored #1 with versions recorded by two different artists.[citation needed]

Withers' childhood in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia[3] was the inspiration for "Lean on Me", which he wrote after he had moved to Los Angeles and found himself missing the strong community ethic of his hometown. He lived in a decrepit house in the poor section of town.

Withers recalled to Songfacts the original inspiration for the song; "I bought a little piano and I was sitting there just running my fingers up and down the piano. In the course of doing the music, that phrase crossed my mind, so then you go back and say, 'OK, I like the way that phrase, Lean On Me, sounds with this song.'" [4]

Several members of the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band were used for the recording session in 1972.

The song was used in a 1970s drug awareness film titled "Dead Is Dead", hosted and produced by actor Godfrey Cambridge.

Club Nouveau version

R&B group Club Nouveau covered the song and took it to number one on the Billboard charts in 1987.[5] It also scored number one on the dance charts,[5] and won a Grammy award.[6]

Club Nouveau's version spent three weeks at number one. It was ranked #94 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s[citation needed], although "Why You Treat Me So Bad" went to #39 that same year.

Other versions

"Lean on Me" has been interpreted by various artists ever since, including Will Smith, Mud (1976), Al Jarreau (1985), DC Talk (1992), Michael Bolton (1994), Bonnie Tyler (1999), Anne Murray (1999), 2-4 Family (1999), and frequently in concert by Rascal Flatts.

In 1989, covers of "Lean on Me" by The Winans and Sandra Reaves-Phillips provided the emotional uplift for a motion picture of the same name. Additionally, for the same film, the song was adapted by Big Daddy Kane in "hip hop" form.[7] Mitchel Musso recorded a version of the song for the 2008 film Snow Buddies.[8]

UK Singer Elkie Brooks performed the song as the title music for BBC comedy program Agony Again.[9]

American group Counting Crows used the song as entrance music before nearly every show they performed in during their 2008 American tour in support of their album, Saturday Nights and Sunday Mornings.[citation needed]

Mary J. Blige performed this song at the HBO We Are One: The Obama Inaugural Celebration at the Lincoln Memorial.[10] The next day, a crowd of hundreds, if not thousands spontaneously began singing the song in the Purple Tunnel of Doom under the National Mall as they waited to gain entrance to the inauguration ceremonies.[11] Kid Rock, Sheryl Crow, and Keith Urban performed this song at the 2010 Hope for Haiti earthquake relief telethon.

The Cast of Glee interpreted at the end of Episode # 10 of the first season, "Ballads" as support for Finn and Quinn.

American Idol Season 9 finalist Didi Benami performed a cover of the song on the Top 10 female performances on Wednesday, March 3, 2010.

The song was featured in a Brawney paper towel commercial in 2010.

References

Preceded by
"Song Sung Blue" by Neil Diamond
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Bill Withers version)
July 8, 1972 – July 22, 1972 (3 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Alone Again (Naturally)" by Gilbert O'Sullivan
Preceded by
"Woman's Gotta Have It" by Bobby Womack
Billboard Best Selling Soul Singles number-one single (Bill Withers version)
June 24, 1972
Succeeded by
"Outa-Space" by Billy Preston
Preceded by
"Jacob's Ladder" by Huey Lewis and the News
Billboard Hot 100 number-one single (Club Nouveau version)
March 21, 1987 – March 28, 1987 (2 weeks)
Succeeded by
"Nothing's Gonna Stop Us Now" by Starship
Preceded by
"Looking for a New Love" by Jody Watley
Billboard Hot Dance Club Play number-one single (Club Nouveau version)
April 18, 1987
Succeeded by
"The Telephone Call" by Kraftwerk
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