Monday, April 5, 2021

Music & Lyrics: "Papa Was a Rolling Stone" by The Temptations (All Directions, 1972)

 

 

Papa Was a Rolling Stone
The Temptations



~~*~~


It was the third of September
That day I'll always remember, yes I will
'Cause that was the day that my daddy died
I never got a chance to see him
Never heard nothin' but bad things about him
Mama I'm depending on you, to tell me the truth

Mama just hung her head and said, son

Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone


Papa was a rolling stone, my son
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Hey Mama
Is it true what they say that Papa never worked a day in his life
And Mama, some bad talk goin' round town
Sayin' that papa had three outside children
And another wife, and that ain't right
I heard them talking papa doing some store-front preachin'
Talking about savin' souls and all the time leechin'
Dealin' in dirt, and stealin' in the name of the Lord

Mama just hung her head and said

Papa was a rolling stone, my son
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone


Hey Mama
I heard Papa called himself a jack of all trades
Tell me, is that what sent Papa to an early grave?
Folks say Papa would beg, borrow, and steal
To pay his bills

Hey Mama
Folks say Papa never was much on thinkin'
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinkin'
Mama I'm dependin' on you to tell me the truth

Mama looked up with a tear in her eye and said, son

Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died all he left us was alone

Papa was a rolling stone yes he was
Wherever he laid his hat was his home



~~*~~
Was this song the foundation for all the trip hop to follow?
I'm not a musicologist, so I can't answer that definitively.
What I can say is this piece influenced
hundreds of artists in the decades following--
to our profound benefit.
 
 Of profound,
1972, when this song was released,
was very seriously so for me.
My family life wasn't far off at all
from the heartbreak this song conveys,
but back then I was too young to understand that,
and so its powerful-but-painful
appeal retained mysterious roots.
 
The pain and trauma of growing up
without a worthy father figure
leaves deep, lifelong scars,
ones that generate fresh wounds in
generations down the line.
I chose not to have children,
partially (at least) because
I didn't want to pass that pain down to
another.
Enough is enough.