Op-Led: Uptown Love in the Time of Coronavirus – Bill Withers to the Rescue

BY Led Black (@Led_Black)

Washington Heights - All You Need is Love Mural

Photo: Briana E. Heard


“Sometimes in our lives we all have pain
We all have sorrow
But if we are wise
We know that there’s always tomorrow

Lean on me, when you’re not strong
And I’ll be your friend
I’ll help you carry on
For it won’t be long
‘Til I’m gonna need
Somebody to lean on”

Bill Withers – Lean On Me

Now is one of those times. The only way forward is solidarity. Only by leaning on each other can we prevail against the pandemic. Last week, one of the greatest soul singers of all time, Bill Withers, made his transition. He left behind a legacy that resonates even more today as we confront this malady that has upended the world as we know it.

His passing on March 30 breathed new life into a body of work perfectly suited to the current situation. “Lean On Me” is the song of the moment. At a time where our interconnectedness to one another has become painfully obvious, seen in that light, that song will make you cry. That notion that if you hurt, I hurt, and vice versa. It also makes you realize how important our healthcare workers on the front lines fighting the onslaught of the COVID-19 virus are. Not to mention all of the “essential” workers who keep our society running and don’t have the privilege of working from home.

Withers understood the working man. He was one of them. From humble origins, Withers continued to work at his job at Weber Aircraft even after being signed to a record deal in his early thirties. That humility, that empathy, that generosity of spirit that permeates his life and his music can lead the way forward.

Speaking of crying, I have done that a lot of that in those quiet moments. Every day brings sad news of loved ones and folks in the news that have been devastated by the novel coronavirus. A close friend of the family lost her mother and another close relative within a matter of days.

So many people have lost loved in ones in these dark days, but we will prevail. What we can’t do is let all that unnecessary pain and suffering be in vain. Out of the ashes of the old world, let’s create a new one for everybody not just the rich and powerful. In the words of Withers, “Paint a portrait of tomorrow, with no colors from today.”

Pa’lante, Siempre Pa’lante!




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