Song Spotlight: “Lean on Me”

Genre: Soul

Bill Withers wrote and recorded the song “Lean On Me” for his second album in 1972. Not surprisingly, this uplifting song made number one on both the Soul Singles and the Billboard Hot 100. The song recalls Bill Withers’s childhood hometown of Slab Fork, West Virginia and the strong community bonds he experienced there. When he moved to Los Angeles, he found out how much he missed the close knit community where he grew up, thus inspiring “Lean On Me.”

Here are some of the lyrics:

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

So just call on me brother (hey)
when you need a hand
we all need somebody to lean on!
I just might have a problem that you’ll understand
we all need somebody to lean on!             

This is a great song to use within a group accompanied by a collection of songs of friendship, family, or support. It can be used as a transition into a reminiscence of friendships and family bonds, an opportunity for visual engagement with meaningful photos or objects from their family or friends, and more! 

Try This:

Theme: Friends, Family, Support – Use this song in a friends, family, and support theme to celebrate the loved ones of individuals in your group or to promote connections and support within the group. Encourage the group to reminisce with their favorite memories of friends or family. Other complementary songs may include “You’ve Got a Friend”, “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, “Side by Side.”

Share Photos: Ask participants to bring photos of the people they can lean on for support.

Singing: Print or display the lyrics to read along.

Discuss: Read the lyrics and discuss ways to show or express support to others within the group. 

Movement: Start with small rhythmic movement like snapping and gradually made bigger movements through the song as the texture thickens and the volume builds. Clap along with the chorus.

What is your favorite song of friends, family or support? What other Bill Withers songs do you enjoy? Please leave your comments below!


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