Sunday, 15 February 2015

My Top Ten Lean On Me Songs

Ten songs asking you to lean on me? Is that possible?

Turns out to be easier than it sounds. (I didn't even have to resort to Limp Bizkit.)

So lean on me... but not too hard. Remember my back!

10. Keith Richards - Eileen
Eileen... would you lean on me?
You see what Keef did there?

Yeah... man. That's, like, yeah...

Great guitar, though.

9. Dan Tyminski - The One You Lean On

The (singing) voice of George Clooney in Oh Brother, Where Art Thou, Dan Tyminski is anything but a man of constant sorrow.

8. J.J. Cale - Lean On Me


7. David Bowie - Suffragette City
Don't lean on me man, 'cos you can't afford the ticket...
Would have placed higher in the list if it'd been more on target... but I could hardly ignore one of Bowie's best.

6. Harry Nilsson - Lean On Me

Harry Nilsson's 1977 album Knnillssonn was due to be his comeback. After rupturing his vocal chords during a wild night of drinking and debauchery with John Lennon a few years earlier, his voice had suffered on subsequent recordings. But it was back on top form by the time of Knnillssonn and his record company were up for promoting the heck out of it. Then an artist on the same label sadly passed away just as Knnillssonn was due to be released... and the promotional budget went on flogging Elvis Presley's back catalogue to the grieving masses.

Poor Harry: he never had much luck.

5. Carter The Unstoppable Sex Machine - Lean on Me, I Won't Fall Over

Smashing anti-suicide anthem from Jim Bob and Fruitbat...
I didn't want to be so dozy, darling
I should have promised you a rosy garden
And told you life is sweet, stick around and enjoy it
Flush that stupid nonsense down the toilet
And lean on me I won't fall over
4. Beth Orton & Terry Callier - Lean On Me

In the late 90s, Beth Orton recorded an EP with 70s soul/jazz legend Terry Callier, including this gorgeous take on Callier's own leaning composition. Their voices just go so well together.

3. Red Box - Lean On Me (ah-li-ayo)

Let me ask you a few questions...
Are we happy, are we scared?
Are we shouting never heard?
Are we running, running brave?
Are we fighting, making waves?
If you answered yes to these questions, chances are you grew up in the 1980s. Red Box have now released three studio albums: one in 1986, one in 1990... and one in 2010 (which was a big hit in Poland). 

2. The Housemartins - Lean On Me

Everyone always goes on about how The Smiths threw away some of their greatest songs on b-sides (How Soon Is Now!!!) but Paul Heaton did the same with his original band, The Housemartins. I'd always assumed this was a cover version. Turns out when I read the sleeve notes that it is a Heaton original, written "on the spot as a filler" with Pete "18 With A Bullet" Wingield, and so good it ended up making its way onto their debut album. While it's not quite in the same league as today's winning tune, it's still an amazing recording. (And, as Martin said while commenting on my last post, we all need a little more Housemartins in our lives.)  

1. Bill Withers - Lean On Me

No prizes for guessing my Number One. A timeless soul classic originally released when I was one month old. Withers appears to have retired from music making in the late 80s, but I guess he still dines out on this song... and all its many, many successful cover versions.

Which one would you lean on?


  1. Naturally, it's the Housemartins for me

  2. Racked my brains but I've got nothing.

    There is no connection with your post; I just thought I'd tell you that.

    1. That must have taken you all of 30 seconds.

  3. OK, so sometimes I cheat and Google...delighted to find Ambient by Moby (and I love his stuff) where the only lyric is Lean on Me and Harry Nilsson singing Lean on Me. Had a listen to them both. they're rubbish. Your list is perfect.

    1. *Cough cough* "Perfect" apart from *cough cough* number 6, presumably.

      Your google search didn't throw up Closer by Travis? Try harder next time! ;-)

    2. I must also try harder, because although I know Travis get a lot of stick in blogging circles for being a bit anodyne, I have long been of the opinion that Closer by Travis is an excellent song. How did I miss it?

    3. To be fair, Travis should have been #10. I agree, it's one of their better efforts... but Keef's had more comedy value. Sometimes, writing a blog like this, bad songs win out over good ones... because they're more interesting to write about.

  4. How do I miss these things sometimes...thought I'd listened to them all...back to the drawing board

    1. You're forgiven. Blogger's Blindness... we've all done it.


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