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Saturday, September 03, 2011

Charley Pride: “Roll on, Mississippi”
May 9, 2011
Nicholas Stix, Uncensored
 


 

Roll on, Mississippi
(Words & Music by Unknown—please help me here, folks! This is not the 1931 song.)

Walking along, whistlin’ a song,
Barefoot and fancy free,
A big riverboat, passing us by,
She’s headed for New Orleans,
There she goes, disappearing around a bend,
Roll on, Mississippi; you make me feel like a child again.

Cool river breeze, like peppermint leaves,
The taste of it takes me back,
Chewin’ on a straw, with torn overalls,
Cane pole and old straw hat; muddy river,
Just like a long lost friend,
Roll on, Mississippi; you make me feel like a child again.

Roll on, Mississippi, big river roll,
You’re the childhood dream I grew up on,
Roll on, Mississippi, carry me home,
Now I can see I’ve been away too long,
Roll on, Mississippi, roll on.

When the world’s spinnin’ ‘round, too fast for me,
I need a place to dream,
So I come to your banks, I sit in your shade,
And relive the memories,
Tom Sawyer … and Huckleberry Finn,
Roll on, Mississippi; you make me feel like a child again.

Roll on, Mississippi, big river roll,
You’re the childhood dream I grew up on,
Roll on, Mississippi, carry me home,
Now I can see I’ve been away too long,
Roll on, Mississippi, roll on.

Mississippi,
Roll on,
Roll on, Mississippi, roll on,
Roll on, Mississippi, roll on.

Thanks to pheyup33 for the upload, replete with the beautiful video, and to TS Rocks, for the lyrics.

* * *

A few days ago, as is often the case, The Boss had her country music cable channel on as I returned home from school with the Boss’ Boss. She usually lets me shut it off, because I don’t like to hear the TV that time of day, and because most of the music the channel plays is mediocre. But before I could shut it off, this golden voice came on, singing a melody I’d never before heard, but which instantly grabbed me. I turned up the sound.

I’d heard Charley Pride a couple of times before and knew he had a great pair of pipes, and knew something of his story—first black country music star, biggest star of them all for a couple of years at the beginning of the ‘70s—but I’d never heard this song. Now I know why Charley Pride was as big as he was.

I had so much trouble finding out who wrote the song that I even wasted time at The Pretend Encyclopedia (TPC), aka Wikipedia. The entry for Pride says that he was born on March 18, 1938, and pitched for the Memphis Red Sox of the Negro American League in 1952.

And I’m Babe Ruth.

That Charley Pride played in the Negro Leagues is not in dispute. I’d already learned that fact elsewhere. But I don’t for one minute believe that he was a professional baseball pitcher at the age of 14.

Either the “editors” at TPC got Pride’s birthday wrong, or the year in which he started playing baseball professionally wrong. Either way, why would any intelligent person use something as a “reference” that requires that you already know the information better than the “editors”?

Pride’s official Web site states,

Charley Pride unofficially started his music career in the late 1950s as a ballplayer with the Negro American League’s Memphis Red Sox singing and playing guitar on the team bus between ballparks. Self-taught on a guitar bought at the age 14 from Sears Roebuck, Pride would join various bands’ [sic] onstage as he and the team roved the country.

After a tryout with the New York Mets, Pride decided to return to his Montana home via Nashville. It was there he met Jack Johnson, who upon hearing the singer perform, sent him on his way with the promise of a management contract and a newly forged relationship that would last for over a decade.

“The late 1950s” means no earlier than 1957 which, if Pride was born in 1938 would make him 19, which is at least plausible, especially given that the Negro Leagues always had lower standards for pitchers than the Major Leagues, and even at their high point, prior to Jackie Robinson, were a cross between a very good minor league and the best the big leagues had to offer. And since the Mets’ first season was 1962, a tryout with them could not have occurred prior to the fall of 1961, when Pride would have been 23.

The reference to “his Montana home” was because at one point he played for a club in Montana. Pride was born and raised in Sledge, Mississippi.

Granted, an official Web site is hardly authoritative, but what could possibly be less authoritative than Wikipedia?

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