Viral Quote's a Fake

03/24/2015 09:34 pm ET | Updated May 23, 2015

When our youngest son was a song leader back in the 1990s for a Jewish youth group, our favorite song was this one:

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

We never found out who wrote it and nobody seems to know its origin. The song's been sung in Jewish summer camps and youth groups for many years, though, often in a round. Our son had an appealing voice and engaging manner, played guitar well and it was always stirring. HaShem, by the way, is another way of saying God. It means "The Name" in Hebrew.

So this week I was surprised when I found the song on Facebook attributed to Camus. Yes, that Camus. The author of The Stranger. You remember that deeply heartwarming novel about brotherhood and religious belief?


Even worse than claiming Camus as the author, the song is misquoted. The viral posting illogically reverses the order of the first two lines and has "walk behind me" come first when it should come second. That's a little farkokt (look it up). This isn't the poster's fault, since the lines are widely attributed to Camus--without the crucial last line which would identify them as not remotely by Camus.

To be clear: Camus never said this, in case there are conspiracy theorists who think he did, it was stolen, and some felonious song writer added the last line.

Whoever started spreading this inane bullshit must have been tone deaf, badly read or both. Who knows? But when you check Google images, for instance, the whole world seems to believe that 1) Camus said it and 2) he said it wrong. Then again, on Facebook there's even speculation George Sand is the author. Seriously.

I suppose it could have been more ridiculous than picking Camus: the lyrics could have been attributed to notorious curmudgeon W.C. Fields.


Or Chairman Mao. On The Long March.


Lev Raphael is the author of Writer's Block is Bunk (a Guide for Writers) and 24 other books in genres from memoir to mystery. You can check them out on Amazon here.