About The Song

“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is a classic soul song by The Temptations, released in 1972. The song is known for its extended instrumental introduction and socially conscious lyrics. Here are some details about the song:

Title: Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone

Artist: The Temptations

Release Date: May 1972

Album: All Directions

Label: Gordy (Motown)

Writers: Norman Whitfield, Barrett Strong

Genre: Soul, Funk

Background: “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and it tells the story of a young man inquiring about his late father. The lyrics explore the father’s mysterious and tumultuous life, highlighting the challenges and hardships he faced. The song’s narrative and social commentary set it apart as a unique and impactful soul composition.

Musical Style: The song is characterized by its distinctive and atmospheric musical arrangement. The extended instrumental introduction, featuring a prominent bass line and wah-wah guitar, is a defining element of the song. The Temptations’ harmonies, combined with the intricate musical production, create a mood that complements the intensity of the lyrics.

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Chart Performance: “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” was a commercial success, reaching the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the United States. It also topped the Billboard R&B chart. The song’s critical acclaim and chart success further solidified The Temptations’ legacy in the soul and R&B genres.

Legacy: The song is considered one of The Temptations’ signature hits and is often cited as a classic in the soul and funk genres. Its unique structure, powerful lyrics, and innovative musical arrangement have contributed to its lasting impact.

Cultural Impact: “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” has been covered and sampled by various artists across different genres. Its inclusion in films, TV shows, and commercials attests to its enduring cultural relevance.

Awards: The song received critical acclaim and won three Grammy Awards in 1973, including Best R&B Vocal Performance by a Group, Best R&B Instrumental Performance (for the instrumental introduction), and Best R&B Song.

“Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” is celebrated not only for its musical artistry but also for its exploration of social themes. The song’s rich production, powerful vocals, and thought-provoking lyrics have made it a timeless classic in the realm of soul and R&B music.

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Video

Lyrics

“Papa Was A Rolling Stone”

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[Chorus:]
Papa was a rolling stone, (my son)
Where ever he laid his hat was his home
And when he died, all he left us was alone

[Chorus]

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 them talking Papa doing some store front preachin’
Talked about saving souls and all the time reaching
Dealing in debt, and stealing in the name of the law
Momma just hung her head and said…

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[Chorus 2x]

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…

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