Song Lyric Sunday – Papa was a Rolling Stone

Happy Father’s to all dads out there! Jim Adams has given us a dads’ theme for today’s Song Lyric Sunday. I have chosen an old Temptations song, Papa was a Rolling Stone.

A song performed by Motown recording act the Undisputed Truth. It was written by Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong in 1971, and released as a single in May 1972. It peaked at number 63 on the Pop Charts and number 24 on the R&B Charts. The song was included on the Undisputed Truth’s album Law of the Land (1973).

Later that year, Whitfield, who also produced the song, took “Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone” and remade it as a 12-minute record for the Temptations, which was a number-one hit on the Billboard Hot 100 and won three Grammy Awards in 1973. While the original Undisputed Truth version of the song has been largely forgotten, the Temptations’ version of the song has been an enduring and influential soul classic.

Lyrics

Papa was a Rolling Stone
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
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)
Songwriters: Barrett Strong / Norman Whitfield
Papa Was a Rollin’ Stone lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC

  15 comments for “Song Lyric Sunday – Papa was a Rolling Stone

  1. June 16, 2019 at 10:44 am

    1972, I was 16 and it was the year I left school. I SO remember this!!!!

    • Christine Bolton
      June 16, 2019 at 1:40 pm

      I had a feeling you might 🙂💕

      • June 16, 2019 at 1:40 pm

        ha! You’re getting to know me so well Christine!

      • Christine Bolton
        June 16, 2019 at 1:44 pm

        Yes! I loved that whole Motown vibe back then, and still do 🙂

      • June 16, 2019 at 1:45 pm

        Those were the days. Loved the Motown sound.

  2. June 16, 2019 at 10:44 am

    Fantastic song! Love this :O) x

    • Christine Bolton
      June 16, 2019 at 1:39 pm

      Thanks so much Lisa 🙂

  3. June 16, 2019 at 10:49 am

    Papa was a real bad Dad, but I love this song.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 16, 2019 at 1:38 pm

      Yes he was! 🤣

  4. June 16, 2019 at 2:21 pm

    Great lyrics and performance of this tale of a dad his kids could never forget, for better or worse. A timeless classic and a wonderful choice for the prompt today, Christine 🙂

    • Christine Bolton
      June 16, 2019 at 3:39 pm

      Thanks Lisa. Yes, not all dads fit the Hallmark test, do they 😏

  5. June 16, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    I’m pleasantly surprised to see this kind of post by you. I wasn’t aware of your interest in music before. I’ve always loved both versions. Thanks for posting.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 16, 2019 at 3:29 pm

      Oh yes, I always participate in the Song Lyric Sunday challenges every week! Thanks for commenting on it 🙂💕

  6. June 17, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    There have been a couple of what I call “instant classics” shared today, and this is another one.

    • Christine Bolton
      June 17, 2019 at 7:51 pm

      Thanks John. I agree with you. It’s very memorable for me. I can put myself in a time and place when I hear it.

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