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The Hollies - "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother" (1969)

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Description: "He Ain't Heavy... He's My Brother" is a popular music 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 again for Neil Diamond in 1970.Scott and Russell had been introduced to each other by Johnny Mercer, at a California nightclub. Despite the fact that Russell was dying of cancer of the lymph nodes and that the pair met in person only three times, they managed to collaborate on the song. The publishing rights to the song were the subject of a legal battle following Russell's death.The first editor of Kiwanis magazine, Roe Fulkerson, published a column in September 1924 carrying the title "He Ain't Heavy, He's My Brother"; variations on the phrase are attested as early as 1884.[3] The phrase is also associated with Father Edward J. Flanagan, the founder of Boys Town. Flanagan came across a line drawing of a young boy carrying his brother in the Christmas 1941 edition of the Louis Allis Messenger. The caption read "He ain't heavy Mister—he's m' brother!" It was created by Mr. Van B. Hooper who later became the editor of Ideals. The drawing was reprinted in the first issue of Ideals in December 1944. Flanagan felt that the drawing illustrated the work done at Boys Town and received permission from the company in August 1943 to recreate the drawing in color with the caption "He ain't heavy, Father . . . he's m' brother." The phrase became the motto of Boys Town. In an 1918 publication by Ralph Waldo Trine titled "The Higher Powers of Mind and Spirit" he relates the following anecdote: "Do you know that incident in connection with the little Scottish girl? She was trudging along, carrying as best she could a boy younger, but it seemed almost as big as she herself, when one remarked to her how heavy he must be for her to carry, when instantly came the reply: 'He's na heavy. He's mi brither.'"It was also reported through the media at the time that the song was written by a Vietnam veteran. He and his company were approaching a town after it had been bombed. A little boy was carrying the dead body of a younger boy away from the burning village. One of the soldiers asked the boy if the dead child was heavy? The child responded, "He's not heavy, he's my brother."The statement is an (unwitting) use of paraprosdokian, a figure of speech in which the second half of the statement causes the hearer to reinterpret the first part. Often used for comedic effect, this is a rare use of the form as pathos.The Hollies' recording, which featured Elton John on piano, was released in the UK on 1 September 1969 and on 1 December 1969 in the US. "He Ain't Heavy" reached #3 in the UK and #7 in the US. The song, paired with "Carrie Anne", was re-released in late 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.Neil Diamond's version of the song, recorded for his Tap Root Manuscript album, went to #20 on the Billboard "Hot 100 Singles" chart in late 1970.

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