"Lean on Me" is a song written and recorded by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. It was released in April 1972 as the first single from his second album, Still Bill. It was his first and only number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100.Billboard ranked it as the No. 7 song of 1972. It is ranked number 208 on Rolling Stones list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Numerous other versions have been recorded, and it is one of only nine songs to have reached No. 1 in the US Singles Charts with versions recorded by two different artists.
Background and writing
Bill Withers' childhood in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, 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.'" 
Withers' version is noted for its bridge section: ("Just call on me, brother"), as well as the coda section, where the words "call me" are repeated a total of 14 times, before the song ends on a cadenza on the strings. Several radio stations, as well as the single version, fade out during the repeated coda, due to time limits as well as the repetition of the lyrics. Some radio versions cut the number of "Call Me's" to six times before the song's end.
The R&B group Club Nouveaucovered the song and took it to number one for two weeks on the BillboardHot 100 charts in 1987. It also reached number one on the dance charts, and number two on the Black Singles charts, kept out of the top spot by Jody Watley's "Looking for a New Love". It won a Grammy award in 1987 for Bill Withers, as the writer, for Best R&B Song. This version of "Lean on Me" is known for the addition of the faux-reggae refrain "We be jammin'! We be jammin'!", which was highly acclaimed as ingenious and revolutionary at the time.
The song ranked at #94 in VH1's 100 Greatest One-hit Wonders of the 80s.
"Lean on Me" 3:58
"Pump It Up (Lean on Me) (Reprise)" 2:38
"Lean on Me (Remix)" 7:42
"Lean on Me (LP Version)" 5:56
"Pump It Up (Lean on Me) (Remix)" 4:51
"Pump It Up (Lean on Me) (Reprise - LP Version)" 2:38
In 1989, remakes of "Lean on Me" by The Winans and Sandra Reaves-Phillips provided the emotional uplift for the film, Lean on Me. For the same film, the song was adapted by Big Daddy Kane in "hip hop" form. That same year Kids Incorporated covered "Lean on Me" in the Season 6 episode "The Cover Up".
The rapper Majid featuring Burhan G made a rap song entitled "Somebody to Lean on" (on the 2004 album Life Knowledge Poetry). The song contains the same introduction words as the original, with Burhan G doing the refrain from the song; however, it otherwise has different lyrics.
^Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970-1992 (Illustrated ed.). St. Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 67. ISBN0-646-11917-6. N.B. the Kent Report chart was licensed by ARIA between mid 1983 and June 19, 1988.