Quote: Just walk beside me and be my friend. Albert Camus or summer camp song?

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 13 17:49:38 UTC 2013

The existentialist philosopher Albert Camus has improbably been
credited with a popular quotation about friendship. A writer at the
website "Tablet: A New Read on Jewish Life" stated that the quotation
appeared in a song that was heard at summer camps, but he did not
specify a date.

Article title: Did Camus Write a Jewish Summer Camp Song?
Article subtitle: Probably not, but the Huffington Post seems to think so
Author: Adam Chandler
Date: November 8, 2013


[Begin excerpt]
Chances are though, if you went to a Jewish summer camp, you’ve heard
the quote in song form, probably at a Havdallah ceremony or a really
intense campfire. The summer camp version of the song has one more
crucial line.

    Don’t walk in front of me, I may not follow.
    Don’t walk behind me, I may not lead.
    Just walk beside me and be my friend
    And together we will walk in the ways of Hashem.

Something makes me think this isn’t the work of Camus. But if it is, I
think it’s safe to ask summer camp for a refund.
[End excerpt]

Is some list member familiar with this song? Do you have any ideas
about the origin of the song or the time of its composition?

Below are two citations from 1971. In the first instance the words
were unattributed and in the second instance Camus was credited. The
context was secular.

[ref] 1971 December 2, Quincy Sun, Living Today by Dr. William F Knox
(Personal Counselor), Quote Page 11, Column 1, Quincy, Massachusetts.
(Internet Archive and Old Fulton)[/ref]

[Begin excerpt]
Another counselor handed me recently a great little thought...

"Don't walk in front of me...I may not follow.
Don't walk behind me, I may not lead.
Walk beside me...just be my friend."

Maybe that's what "being a father" is all about...just being a friend.
[End excerpt]

[ref] 1971 December 8, Trenton Evening Times, TODAY Is For Dropping
Back In: A Resident Center For Addicts by James Labig, Subsection: The
Discipline, Quote Page 49, Column 2, Trenton, New Jersey.

[Begin excerpt]
There are many signs throughout the center. One from Camus reads:
"Don't walk in front of me - I may not follow; don't walk behind - I
may not lead; walk beside me and just be my friend."
[End excerpt]

Here is a thematic precursor in 1910:

[ref] 1910, The Doctor's Christmas Eve by James Lane Allen, Quote Page
4, Macmillan Company, New York.[/ref]


[Begin excerpt]
Her bulging hips overreached the borders of the narrow path so that
the boy was crowded out upon the rough ground as he struggled forward
close beside her. She would not allow him to walk in front of her and
he disdained to walk behind.

"Then walk beside me or go back!" she had said to him, laughing carelessly.
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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