About the song ‘Rollin’ Stone’ by Muddy Waters…
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Original Muddy Waters song from which the Stones took their name from (as well as Rolling Stone magazine) Muddy recorded the song in 1950. According to the Encyclopedia of the Blues book, ROLLIN’ STONE was actually his interpretation of “Catfish Blues”, a Delta blues song that dates back to 1920s Mississippi. Brian Jones named the band (formerly The Rollin’ Stones) during a phone call to the Jazz News music paper. When asked by a journalist for the band’s name, Jones saw a Muddy Waters LP lying on the floor; in which one of the tracks was “Rollin’ Stone”.
“Rollin’ Stone” is a blues song recorded by Muddy Waters in 1950. It is his interpretation of “Catfish Blues”, a Delta blues that dates back to 1920s Mississippi. “Still a Fool”, recorded by Muddy Waters a year later using the same arrangement and melody, reached number nine on the Billboard R&B chart. “Rollin’ Stone” has been recorded by a variety of artists.
“Rollin’ Stone” has been identified (along with “Walkin’ Blues”, the single’s B-side) as one of the first songs that Muddy Waters learned to play and an early favorite. The words refer to the traditional proverb, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”.
Called “a brooding, minor-hued drone piece”, “Rollin’ Stone” is a mid- to slow-tempo blues notated in 4/4 time in the key of E major. Although the instrumental section uses the IV and V chords, the vocal sections remain on the I chord, giving the song a modal quality often found in Delta blues songs. In addition to the traditional catfish verses, Waters added:
Well my mother told my father just before I was born
‘I got a boy child comin’, gonna be, gonna be a rollin’ stone
Sho’ enough he’s a rollin’ stone
Unlike most of his early recordings which have bass or other instrumental accompaniment, “Rollin’ Stone” is a solo performance by Muddy Waters on vocal and electric guitar. It has “much empty space … imbued with the power of a pause, of letting a note hang in the air, the anticipation of the next one”.
“Rollin’ Stone” was the first Muddy Waters record released on Chess Records and the second overall for the label (previous releases were on Aristocrat Records). It did not reach the national record charts, but sold about 70,000 copies and allowed Muddy Waters to quit his day job.
(Ref. rollin stone muddy waters)
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