♫ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother ♫

And to close our Neil Diamond Week here on Filosofa’s Word, we have this one that was requested by none other than rawgod.  (Bring on the Motown tomorrow!!!)


The history behind the name of the song is interesting …

The title came from the motto for Boys Town, a community formed in 1917 by a Catholic priest named Father Edward Flanagan. Located in Omaha, Nebraska, it was a place where troubled or homeless boys could come for help. In 1941, Father Flanagan was looking at a magazine called The Messenger when he came across a drawing of a boy carrying a younger boy on his back, with the caption, “He ain’t heavy Mr., he’s my brother.” Father Flanagan thought the image and phrase captured the spirit of Boys Town, so he got permission and commissioned a statue of the drawing with the inscription, “He ain’t heavy Father, he’s my brother.”

The statue and phrase became the logo for Boys Town. In 1979, girls were allowed and the name was eventually changed to Girls And Boys Town. The logo was updated with a drawing of a girl carrying a younger girl added.

In 1938, Spencer Tracy portrayed Father Flanagan in the movie Boys Town, which also starred Mickey Rooney. In 1941, they made a sequel called Men Of Boys Town, where they used the phrase “He ain’t heavy, Father, he’s my brother” for the first time in a movie.

This is a ballad written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell. Originally recorded by Kelly Gordon in 1969, the song became a worldwide hit for the Hollies later that year and also a hit for Neil Diamond in 1970. It has been recorded by many artists in subsequent years. The Hollies’ version was re-released in 1988 and again was a major hit in the UK.

Scott and Russell were introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer, at a California nightclub. Although Russell was dying of lymphoma and the pair met only three times, they managed to collaborate on the song.

The Hollies’ recorded the song in June 1969 at the Abbey Road Studios, with Allan Clarke on lead vocals. I did not know that Elton John, who was working as a session musician at the time, played the piano on the song, as well their next single, I Can’t Tell the Bottom from the Top, for which he was paid a grand sum of £12. The song was released on 26 September 1969 and reached #3 in the UK, and #7 in the US. The song was re-released in August 1988 in the UK following its use in a television advertisement for Miller Lite beer. It reached the #1 spot in the UK chart for two weeks in September 1988.

And then, the following year, came Neil Diamond’s version that appears on his album Tap Root Manuscript, which was released in November 1970.

The song has been covered by many artists, including Olivia Newton-John and The Osmonds!  I like both the Hollies and Neil Diamond’s version, and since it IS Neil Diamond Week, and since rg did request the Diamond version, I shall play both, leading off with Neil’s version.

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother

The Hollies/Neil Diamond

… The road is long
With many a winding turn
That leads us to who knows where, who knows where
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 the 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
He ain’t heavy, he’s my brother

Source: LyricFind

Songwriters: Bob Russell / Bobby Scott

He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother lyrics © Music Sales Corporation

25 thoughts on “♫ He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother ♫

      • You have no VPN, woman? That’s the absolute basic equipment for every modern netizen! Elementary. How do you steal movies and music and watch other countries’ television or hide your identity without a VPN service?

        Liked by 1 person

            • I exercise an over-abundance of caution whenever financial or personal data must be communicated over the internet, but I may look into the VPN and see what, if anything, it has to offer. I’ve heard it keeps you from visiting sites it doesn’t like … I don’t need a mentor or a guard.

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              • “I’ve heard it keeps you from visiting sites it doesn’t like …”
                Exactly the other way round, hun. The VPN (Virtual Private Network) does allow you everything. You can completely hide who and where you are. For example do we sometimes connect from “Germany” in order to watch German TV shows that are blocked internationally. But we pay German TV license and feel it’s our right to watch, even if we’re sitting on a beach in SA.

                “I don’t need a mentor or a guard.”
                No problemo. VPN will happily watch our suicides, too. Coz we are adults! Our VPN is based in Switzerland, which we still think gives us the most anonymity and privacy.

                Liked by 1 person

  1. I don’t think I’ve heard the Neil Diamond version before. However I’m familiar with and rather fond of The Hollies version, and having compared both vesions, it’s still my preference.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you, Jill. As I remembered it, I thought Neil wrote this song. Thank you for the correction.
    Here’s to hoping we can have another Neil Diamond week in 2023, and beyond. We barely scratched the surface of his talent in the last 7 days.

    Liked by 1 person

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