It spent 19 weeks on this country's Billboard Pop chart and left the magazine's Rhythm & Blues chart (then known as "Hot Soul Singles") after spending 17 weeks on it.
On 6-24-1972, the song displaced Bobby Womack's "Woman's Gotta Have It" at the top of this country's R&B chart, staying that chart's leader for an entire week...and did even better as a pop song, making it to Number One on said survey on 7-8-1972, the day it kicked Neil Diamond's "Song Sung Blue" out of the Hot 100's driver's seat (and enjoyed a three-week run as the most popular single on Billboard's Pop list).
This song proved so durable that the 1980s dance/disco group Club Nouveau put its own spin on it (Warner Bros. 28430)...and in early 1987, Club Nouveau made it a smash all over again- bringing the number to the top spot on the Pop chart and to Number Two on the Billboard R&B survey.
It's been a staple at contemporary worship services ever since at churches everywhere.
It's the song its composer (Bill Withers, the man who had the original recording, on Sussex Records) is most associated with.
The ditty's message is timeless and universal.
And until very recently, I've had so many doubts about whether that timeless message has ever had any REAL meaning for me.
You see, at the time "Lean on Me" came out, I was still in my teenage years and fighting to survive life with an alcoholic mother...the exact same fight my younger brother was engaged in.
One thing about it, after being told by Mom that "I WISH YOU'D NEVER BEEN BORN!" I just couldn't count on coming to her for any sort of support for any reason.
I didn't dare seek support from any adult relative. (A cousin telling me I'd have to learn to cope with this or that situation was the closest I could come to receiving any support from kin at the time.)
Had better luck at school...but even then, I had to be very, very careful about who to tell my troubles to.
Lately, however, I've been giving "Lean on Me" another chance in my life...and fighting the temptation to go back to saying: "I don't need anybody!"
Way down inside, we DO need each other.