[9] Bill Withers, ‘Lean On Me’

Bill Withers

As regular readers of Jukebox Junior know, I often find myself wondering, “What would Green Gartside say?” Today, I was listening to ‘Lean On Me’ and noticing how Withers’ vocal melody slavishly follows each note of the verse, and it reminded me of the Scritti Politti brainiac’s criticism of Arcade Fire: “The melodies stick too closely to the chord changes.”* Now, I know this isn’t exactly the same, but, well, what would Green Gartside say, I wonder?

I find those verses tentative, as if Bill’s shy about offering his shoulder. It’s sweet. This could get bogged down in sentimentality, but over all ‘Lean On Me’ feels sincere. It’s anthemic without showiness.

What would Junior say? “10 out of 10. And 10 out of 10 for the Cheerios too.” She’s seen too many Come Dine With Mes.

*From this Guardian piece.

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