He was my brother
Five years older than I
He was my brother
Twenty-three years old the day he died

Freedom writer
They cursed my brother to his face
"Go home, outsider
This town's gonna be your buryin' place"

He was singin' on his knees
An angry mob trailed along
They shot my brother dead
Because he hated what was wrong

He was my brother
Tears can't bring him back to me
He, he was my brother
And he died so his brothers could be free
He died so his brothers could be free

Lyrics submitted by kevin

"He Was My Brother" as written by Paul Simon


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He Was My Brother song meanings
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  • +1
    General CommentThe line is "freedom rider". The song was dedicated a year after its writing to Andrew Goodman, who was murdered along with James Chaney and Michael Schwerner while working in Mississippi during Freedom Summer in 1964.
    ElectraInsteadon November 20, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General Commentdoes anyone think the lyrics should be "freedom rider" ?? ...since that's what they were called, i feel like it makes more sense...
    reginaldcranmeron July 21, 2012   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song sends chills down my spine? Anyone know if this is a true story? I don't suppose so, but the emotion behind it is so immense, I almost think it happened to Paul himself.
    sgdpon May 30, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI don't know the story behind the song lyrics, but I read that the song was later dedicated to murdered civil rights activist Andrew Goodman.

    imthe_eviltwinon December 16, 2004   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, I think Simon knew Goodman from school or something.
    starangelon May 08, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentYeah, Simon was a classmate of Goodman's at Queen's College.
    bjorton November 07, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI think this song is a wonderful tribute to everyone who has died for a cause they believed in in.
    jessyon March 24, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentQuite unusual for Paul Simon this song, because he's giving quite a simple message without any particular nuances. Works well as a freedom song though.
    ShineYouDiamondon August 05, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentwhen i heard this song i thought of river phoenix. the 23 enigma!
    2worldon December 08, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI just heard this song for the first time, and I thought it must be about a civil rights activist who was killed. Thanks for confirming it. We are all brothers (and sisters).
    edguidryon December 30, 2006   Link

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