Bill Withers - Lean on Me - 1972


Lean on Me by Bill Withers is a classic song, released in 1972, that has touched the hearts of many. This aiMOOC will explore the history, creation, and impact of this soulful tune, along with interesting details about Bill Withers' life and career.

Background of 'Lean on Me'

Lean on Me is one of the most famous songs by American singer-songwriter Bill Withers. The song was released in April 1972 as the first single from his second album, Still Bill. It was a number one single on both the soul singles and the Billboard Hot 100. Notably, Lean on Me is ranked number 208 on Rolling Stone's list of "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time".

Bill Withers: The Artist

Bill Withers, born on July 4, 1938, in Slab Fork, West Virginia, was a latecomer to the music industry. Before embarking on his music career, Withers served in the United States Navy for nine years and later worked in a factory making toilet seats for 747s. His breakthrough came with his debut album Just As I Am in 1971, which included the hit "Ain't No Sunshine". Withers continued to record and perform until the mid-1980s.

The Making of 'Lean on Me'

The inspiration for Lean on Me came from Withers' childhood in the coal mining town of Slab Fork, West Virginia. The song's lyrics reflect the strong community ethic of the town where Withers grew up. It's a message of support and community resilience, making the song a popular anthem during times of hardship and crisis.

Cultural Impact

Lean on Me has been covered by numerous artists and featured in several films, TV shows, and advertisements. It has also been used in various charity campaigns and public events, particularly as a song of hope and solidarity.

For more detailed information, you can visit the Wikipedia page on Lean on Me and Bill Withers' biography.

Interactive Tasks

Quiz: Questions on the song

In what year was 'Lean on Me' released? (1972) (!1970) (!1974) (!1969)

Which album features 'Lean on Me'? (Still Bill) (!Just As I Am) (!Menagerie) (!+'Justments)

Where did 'Lean on Me' reach number one? (Billboard Hot 100 and Soul Singles) (!Billboard Hot 100 only) (!Soul Singles only) (!It did not reach number one)

What was the main inspiration behind 'Lean on Me'? (Bill Withers' childhood in Slab Fork, West Virginia) (!His time in the Navy) (!His work in a factory) (!His first love experience)

How is 'Lean on Me' often used in society? (As a song of hope and solidarity) (!As a dance anthem) (!As a protest song) (!As a Christmas carol)

Quiz: Questions on the Performer

Where was Bill Withers born? (Slab Fork, West Virginia) (!New York City, New York) (!Los Angeles, California) (!Chicago, Illinois)

What was Bill Withers' first job before becoming a musician? (He served in the United States Navy) (!He was a teacher) (!He worked as a journalist) (!He was a coal miner)

Which of these songs is also a hit by Bill Withers? (Ain't No Sunshine) (!Respect) (!Superstition) (!Purple Rain)

When did Bill Withers start his music career? (In the late 1960s) (!In the early 1950s) (!In the mid-1970s) (!In the 1980s)

Until when did Bill Withers record and perform music? (Until the mid-1980s) (!Until the late 1990s) (!Until the early 2000s) (!He never stopped performing)

Quiz: Questions on the lyrics

What is the main theme of 'Lean on Me'? (Support and community resilience) (!Romantic love) (!Overcoming personal struggles) (!Celebrating success)

Which line follows "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) (!I'm gonna need somebody to lean on)

What does the song emphasize about friendships? (They are important in times of trouble) (!They are temporary) (!They are less important than family) (!They are always easy)

How does the song suggest people should deal with challenges? (By leaning on each other) (!By facing them alone) (!By ignoring them) (!By giving up)

What emotion does the song 'Lean on Me' primarily evoke? (Comfort and solidarity) (!Excitement and joy) (!Sadness and nostalgia) (!Anger and rebellion)


Slab Fork, West Virginia Birthplace of Bill Withers
Ain't No Sunshine Another hit song by Bill Withers
Still Bill Album featuring 'Lean on Me'
1972 Release year of 'Lean on Me'
Navy Bill Withers' job before his music career

Open Tasks


  1. Research Task: Find out more about the town of Slab Fork, West Virginia, and write a short essay on how its community might have influenced Bill Withers.
  2. Music Analysis: Listen to 'Lean on Me' and identify the instruments used in the song.
  3. Creative Writing: Write a short story inspired by the message of 'Lean on Me'.


  1. Cover Version: Create your own cover version of 'Lean on Me', either by singing, playing an instrument, or using digital music software.
  2. Historical Context: Research the music scene of the early 1970s and discuss how 'Lean on Me' fit into it.
  3. Comparison Essay: Compare 'Lean on Me' with another popular song from the 1970s in terms of theme, style, and cultural impact.


  1. Music Video Production: Create a music video for 'Lean on Me' that captures the spirit of the song.
  2. Extended Essay: Write an in-depth essay on the influence of African American music in the 1970s, using 'Lean on Me' as a case study.
  3. Interview Project: Conduct an interview with people who lived through the 1970s and ask how 'Lean on Me' and other songs from that era influenced their lives.

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Oral Exam

  1. Discussion Question: Discuss the role of music in community building and support, using 'Lean on Me' as an example.
  2. Analysis Question: Analyze how 'Lean on Me' reflects the socio-cultural context of the 1970s.
  3. Comparison Question: Compare and contrast the themes in 'Lean on Me' with those in modern songs that focus on community and support.
  4. Creative Question: If you were to write a modern version of 'Lean on Me', what contemporary issues would you include?
  5. Reflection Question: Reflect on a personal experience where a song like 'Lean on Me' had a significant impact on your life or perspective.

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