Sunday, June 28, 2020

He Ain't Heavy


I never really gave this song much thought, but could remember the first few words and then hum along with the rest. It was first sung by Neil Diamond. That basically how I do all songs.  Being a young adult and seeing nothing but the hopes, love and life ahead, this song didn't mean much to me.


I know this song has been done in different ways, by different artists. The recording and video below means more to me, at this stage of my life.

The lyrics? Can you hear them?  Understand them?  Here they are:

The road is long/ with many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where/who knows when.
But I’m strong/strong enough to carry him.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

So on we go/his welfare is of my concern.
No burden is he to bear/we’ll get there.
For I know/he would not encumber me.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother.

If I’m laden at all/I’m laden with sadness
That everyone’s heart/isn’t filled with gladness
Of love for one another.

It’s a long, long road/from which there is no return
While we’re on the way to there/why not share
And the load/doesn’t weigh me down at all.
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

He’s my brother…He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother...

What do you remember of the 70s or 80s, when this song was making the rounds? Did you know the lyrics then? Did this speak to you? 

Addendum:  This was a song for many when it was released in 1970. Vietnam took many of our local boys from small farming communities where I grew up. Some came back, some didn't. When I hear this, the senior HS  pictures come to mind of those boys, their names. My cousin Billy didn't return.

Repost from 2014

38 comments:

  1. I don't honestly remember the song, but a story my daddy told about a kid carrying his brother who could not walk, when asked if the boy was heavy, the kid had replied, "He ain't heavy, He is my brother."
    But I am glad you sent the song and the lyrics. I could listen and read the words, that doesn't happen too often.
    But yes it speaks to me now, and I can remember the story speaking to me as a kid, the thought was sweet.
    Good one, thanks agaion/
    Love from NC
    Sherry & jack

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    1. Your father used this as a behavior choice lesson, I think.

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  2. It's my first time hearing this song. Or if I did hear it I didn't remember it. I did read the lyrics as the first time I've ever heard those words and it's truly beautiful

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  3. The only words I remember are "He ain't heavy, he's my brother" which were lifted and applied to all sorts of everyday situations.

    The 1970s were a bit miserable for me, I was living alone in a shabby bedsit and wondering what the future might bring. In 1981 I met Jenny and everything improved from then on, so the 1980s were much more positive.

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    1. Sounds like one person really changed your life.

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  4. Those song lyrics are perfect! I don't know that I'd have chosen this one; but like you, the older I become, the more significant a couple songs become.

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    1. As an adult, I see the wider scope of things.

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  5. The song does not resonate especially, but the sentiment does, and I hope we take it to heart, and dispense with slimy, insensitive, cold-hearted politicians who think otherwise.

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    1. Being part of the Vietnam era many young men from our small county went, and too many stayed. This song says that for me. In all wars, companies development that brothership.

      My cousin Bill died in June 1970. Other boys Mike, Jay, Donald, Ray, Bing, Jimmy---Those are the names I can remember from our farming community across the county.

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  6. The phrase "He ain't heavy he's my brother" originated with a story about Father Flannigan. He founded Boys Town in Nebraska when he noticed so many boys with no home. They were stealing and causing mischief in order to live and to amuse themselves. He began with a few boys. As the number of boys grew and word spread boys were arriving from all over the country wanting to live in a town they governed. One day two boys came one carrying the other who could not walk. Father Flannigan wondered if the boy was to heavy to be carried and the older boy replied, "He ain't heavy He's my brother." Father Flannigan also believed that "There is no such thing as a bad boy."

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    1. Tears here. Such a fine man who changed so many lives.

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  7. If only kindness and support resonated more strongly with ALL of us. I firmly believe the world would be a better place for it.

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    1. If we viewed all whom we know as our brothers, indeed there would be a worldwide change.

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  8. I am most familiar with The Holies version of the song. As per Wikipedia it was first recorded by Kelly Gordon. I think that several generations have listened to it. The song has been remade many times. I would not be surprised if someone were to re-record it in our present time.

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    1. The Hollies recording was the first version I heard years ago. We went to a Neil Diamond concert in San Diego a few years ago, fell in love with his music once again.

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  9. I've heard it, of course. (My mother is a huge fan, so I've probably heard the majority of his songs, not just the hits.) Never really given it much thought before.

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    1. In this time when humanity is shattered by divisiveness, I thought that this song was necessary.

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  10. While all my school friends were listening to rap and country-rock crossover music, I was listening to hard core 70s and 80s what they now call Classic Rock. Friends told me I was born a decade too late. I remember the song, but didn't really know the words until you shared them today. If only we could all do a bit more carrying, the world would be a far better, safer, and happier place.

    You asked how I find the murals in my city. They are everywhere in my town. However, there was a TV report about this one, which piqued my interest, so one day after lockdown as lifted, with mask on of course, I took photos of this one I shared today.

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    1. It is hard to imagine the skills the murals require.

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  11. Replies
    1. In the movie "Forrest Gump", Tom Hanks played this simple man who saw good for good, and bad for bad. He went to Vietnam where he rescued his division from bombs hitting their position. He carried his friend, a large man, to safety. His brother.

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  12. I remember much...very much from the 70s and 80s...and I remember this song clearly. A great song...important lyrics.

    I also remember clearly the evening I saw Neil
    Diamond, live in concert, in Brisbane...the capital of Queensland....back in the Seventies. He was absolutely wonderful. I have always been a fan of Neil Diamond...I always will be a fan. :)

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    1. Talented man. At the close of the concert, he finally sang "Sweet Caroline", which was the signature song at that time.

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  13. Thankfully I never heard this version. I like Neil but this is a lousy version. But the message is the same and it's a great song and yes, I got it in the 70s I wasn't perpetually high. :-)

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    1. He crooned the song, gently. The Hollies performed it with such skill! I love both. High?

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  14. The lyrics are great, but I don't remember this song from back then.

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  15. This song touched me so when I was young and still does. When I hear it, there is always a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. Although I no longer have any religious affiliation, I was raised Catholic and my family always stressed the Spiritual and Corporal Works of Mercy. I have strived to live by them.

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  16. Realizing this was a powerfully emotional post, I thought I would try to contribute a laugh. My strongest thought attached to this song involved a former boss roughly the build of Barney the purple dinosaur. I used to change the chorus to: "He ain't heavy... he's Ed Hulbert..."

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  17. When this song came out, in my cousin's family it became, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother David!" Now the words have a far more important and powerful meaning. How did musicians so young write such "grown up" content.

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    1. Good question. How they can write so intuitively is amazing.

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  18. Oh reading about your cousin made my eyes teary dear Susan !

    this was touching song indeed ,i loved hearing it but glad that you shared lyrics
    i think each step we are able to take in life is because hope is ground under our feet and sky above our head
    without it all possibilities collapsed

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  19. Since i was 7 when it was released, i had no clue then. Now, it is a very special song to me, and i am very, very sad about your cousin and all of the young people who didn't come back.

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Go ahead...it won' t hurt...I'd love to hear what you think!