Sunday, April 22, 2012

40 Year Itch : Lean On Me

In "The Forty Year Itch" New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik pronounced a rule about American popular culture: "The Golden Forty Year Rule":

The prime site of nostalgia is always whatever happened, or is thought to have happened, in the decade between forty and fifty years past.

 In the 1960's, the New Vaudeville Band's 1920-ish megaphone hit  "Winchester Cathedral" won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Recording while Paul McCartney dabbled in Roaring Twenties song craft with tunes like "Your Mother Should Know" and "Honey Pie". In the 1970's, the 30's were hot. Moviegoers flocked to theaters for "The Sting" and "Paper Moon". And the trend continues today, or so Gopnik would have us believe.

Works for me obviously. So instead of trying to nail down whether an album came out on a particular day, week, or month...I'm just going to title posts with "40 Year Itch". Speaking of which, Bill Withers released his only #1 single "Lean On Me" on April 21, 1972. It's one of those songs you might find yourself accidentally playing on the piano. That's kind of how Withers wrote it:

"I bought a little piano and I was sitting there just running my fingers up and down the piano. In the course of doing the music, that phrase crossed my mind, so then you go back and say, 'OK, I like the way that phrase, Lean On Me, sounds with this song.'"

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