Meaning of Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters & The Story Behind

The legendary song Muddy Waters gave the name to the cult rock band The Rolling Stones and the famous magazine Rolling Stone. It is included in several authoritative ratings of the best compositions and is considered a classic of the genre. It was performed by dozens of popular musicians.

I wonder when Muddy was composing Rollin’ Stone in 1948, reworking someone else’s blues, how did he see the future of the song? It is unlikely that he counted on at least a small part of such a colossal success.

The story of the creation and meaning of Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters

In those days, the copyright situation was much simpler, and the musicians were not shy about borrowing riffs, chord progressions and whole passages from song lyrics from each other.

Jim Jackson recorded the song Kansas City Blues Parts 3 and 4 back in 1928, which contains the lines:

I wished I was a catfish swimming down in the sea
I’d have some good woman fishing after me

Similar words appear in the compositions of several other bluesmen. In 1941, Robert Petway introduced his own version of the song, calling it Catfish Blues. She formed the basis of Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ Stone.

The bluesman later explained:

We didn’t do it exactly like those older guys. We added rhythm and some drive.

Rolling stone

Gordon Roberts wrote in Muddy Waters’ biography:

In the Mississippi Delta, Catfish Blues has been sung for years, but it never sounded like Rollin’ Stone.

Can’t Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters, 2002

The title of the song refers to the proverb “A rolling stone gathers no moss” (“A rolling stone gathers no moss”). In Russian, the most successful analogue seems to be the option: “Whoever does not sit still, he will not make good.”

Release and achievements

Muddy recorded Rollin’ Stone in February 1950. Waters performed the composition himself, accompanying himself on guitar. In the same year, the song was released by Chess Records and sold 70,000 copies.

It is included in several popular ratings of the best works, including the following:

  • Grammy Hall of Fame,
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame “500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll”
  • Rolling Stone Magazine’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Cover versions

Rollin’ Stone has been performed by many musicians. Listen to Paul Rogers and Jeff Beck’s version.

Interesting Facts

  • It was one of the first songs Muddy learned to play.
  • In 1951, Muddy Waters released Still a Fool with the same melody and arrangement as Rollin’ Stone. It climbed to number nine on the Billboard R&B chart.

Rollin’ Stone Lyrics by Muddy Waters

Well, I wish I was a catfish,
Swimming in a oh, deep, blue sea
I would have all you good looking women,
Fishin, fishin after me
Sure ‘nough, after me
Sure ‘nough, after me
Oh ‘nough, oh ‘nough, sure ‘nough

I went to my baby’s house
And I sit down oh, on her steps.
She said, “Now, come on in now, Muddy
You know, my husband just left
Sure ‘nough, he just now left
Sure ‘nough, he just left”
Sure ‘nough, oh well, oh well

Well, my mother told my father,
Just before hmmm, I was born
“I got a boy child’s comin,
He’s gonna be, he’s gonna be a rollin’ stone
Sure ‘nough, he’s a rollin’ stone
Sure ‘nough, he’s a rollin stone”
Oh well he’s a, oh well he’s a, oh well he’s a

Well, I feel, yes I feel,
Feel that a low down time ain’t long
I’m gonna catch the first thing smokin
Back, back down the road I’m going
Back down the road I’m going
Back down the road I’m going
Sure ‘nough back, sure ‘nough back

Lyrics of Rollin’ Stone by Muddy Waters Alternate

I’m sorry, I’m not a catfish
Floating in the deep blue sea.
Then all the cuties
They tried to hook me up.
They would definitely try
They would definitely try
Exactly, exactly, I tell you

I went to my baby’s house
And sat down on the steps.
She said, “Come on, come in, Muddy.
The husband just left.
He definitely left.
He’s definitely gone.”
Exactly, yes, yes.

Mom told dad
Before I was born
“I will have a boy.
He will be, will be a rolling stone.
He will definitely be a rolling stone,
He’s definitely going to be a rolling stone.”
So it is, so it is, so it is

It seems to me, yes, it seems
It seems that time does not stretch so far in the south.
I’ll jump on the first steam locomotive
And now I’m on the road again
On the road again
On the road again
Of course, on the way, of course, on the way

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