Song Lyric Sunday — He’s My Brother

The theme Helen Vahdati picked out for this week’s Song Lyric Sunday is “brother/sister.” The song I chose for this theme is the Hollies’ “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother.”

Written by Bobby Scott and Bob Russell and originally recorded by Kelly Gordon in 1969, the song became a worldwide hit for The Hollies that same year. It reached number 3 in the U.K. and number 7 in the U.S.

The song’s 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. 

Here are the lyrics to the song.

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
Then 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

15 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — He’s My Brother

  1. pensitivity101 April 21, 2018 / 11:53 pm

    This is a classic, and one of my favourites from 1969 which was a year I was forever buying singles as I had a little job in the school holidays. I remember it coming on the radio and the boys were amazed I knew the words to a song they’d never heard before!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Felicia Denise April 22, 2018 / 1:42 am

    I cannot believe for as long as I’ve loved this song, I didn’t know its origins! Many thanks for sharing! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sight11 April 22, 2018 / 7:26 am

    I wonder how you and Jim know so much history behind these songs?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. ghostmmnc April 22, 2018 / 4:23 pm

    Ahh, a wonderful classic! Very interesting to hear how the song came to be.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. leigha66 April 23, 2018 / 10:38 am

    I have family in Omaha so I knew about Boy’s Town, but never knew the connection with the song. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Helen Vahdati May 7, 2018 / 12:13 pm

    This is such a classic song. I forgot how mellow it was and how much I liked it! Thanks so much for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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