SWEET SOUL MUSIC OF THE 70’S- ” PAPA WAS A ROLLIN’ STONE”- THE TEMPTATIONS

One of artworks for the Dutch single

Every Thursday this year I am going to feature Sweet Soul Music of The 70’s- with the focus being on the first half of the decade which I am a big fan of- I will toss in some from the late 70’s too but I think soul music was at its peak in the 1960’s- early 70’s disco [while I do like some disco songs} kind of a turning point and not in a good way.

I wanted to start the series of with a favorite- my favorite song from The Temptations- and one of the great singles from the 70’s- “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” from 1972- it went to #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Pop chart and to #5 on the R&B singles chart.  The song starts with an extended instrumental introduction which lasts nearly 4 minutes. I never realized the introduction was that long because it is so good. The Temptations singers then alternate lines questioning their mother on their now dead father.

There was a lot of tension between the group and songwriter/ producer Norman Whitfield because of the instrumentation getting more emphasis than the vocals. The group was backed up by the Funk Brothers on the single. “Papa Was A Rollin’ Stone” was written by Barrett Strong and Norman Whitfield.

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
Momma I’m depending on you to tell me the truth
Momma 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, yeah)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
Hey Momma!
Is it true what they say that Papa never worked a day in his life
And Momma, some bad talk goin’ round town sayin’ that
Papa had three outside children
And another wife, and that ain’t right
Heard some talk Papa doing some storefront preachin’
Talking about saving souls and all the time leechin’
Dealing in dirt, and stealing in the name of the Lord
Momma 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
Hey Papa was a rolling stone (dad gumma it)
Where ever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
Hey Momma
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, steal
To pay his bills
Hey Momma
Folks say Papa never was much on thinking
Spent most of his time chasing women and drinking
Momma I’m depending on you to tell me the truth
Momma looked up with a tear in her eye and said, son
Papa was a rolling stone (well, well, well, well)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone (lone, lone, lone, alone)
Papa was a rolling stone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
Wherever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone
My daddy was
Papa was a rolling stone (yes he was, yeah)
Wherever he laid his hat was his home

5 responses to “SWEET SOUL MUSIC OF THE 70’S- ” PAPA WAS A ROLLIN’ STONE”- THE TEMPTATIONS

    • It is kind of amazing that it took so long for them to get the recognition they deserve- they were the backbone of the Motown success and they didn’t even get credit on the albums!

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