August 14

SITTING ON TOP OF THE WORLD: A Traditional Music Standard

Mississippi Sheiks
Mississippi Sheiks/

Sitting on Top of the World

Back in 1930, The Mississipi Sheiks released a song that has become a standard of traditional American music. “Sitting on Top of the World” is one of the most well-known music that crystalized the band’s influential contribution to dozens of genres and styles of popular music. The song has a deceptively simple and lucid blues that proves its staying power even through the changes in the music industry.

Band members Walter Vinson and Lonnie Chatmon penned this timeless track. Acoustic guitar doubled as rhythm and percussion backed the original version. The lyrics were simple and easily understandable, it conveys a stoic optimism in the face of emotional setbacks. Vinson narrated that he composed the song one morning after playing a white dance in Greenwood Mississippi. Upon its release, it became a popular crossover hit. It has since been recorded by different artists including Willie Nelson, Chet Atkins, the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and many other more.

For the record…

In 2008, “Sitting on Top of the World” was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame. And earlier this year, the Library of Congress selected the song for the preservation in the National Recording Registry. They described the song as “historically, culturally, or artistically significant.”

Let’s check some lyrics of the song:

Goin’ to the station, down in the yard
Gone get me a freight train, worked some, got hard
But now she’s gone, I don’t worry
I’m sitting on top of the world
The lonesome days, they have gone by
Why should you beg me and say goodbye
I’m sitting on top of the world

Mississippi Sheiks

The Mississippi Sheiks is one of the most influential blues acts during the prewar era. Their songs have conformed to the conventions associated with country blues. Further, the group was led by the gifted instrumentalist Lonnie Chatmon, whose casual eclecticism gave the group an edge over its contemporaries. His father was a former slave, well-known for his musical abilities.

The group’s line up was a fluid revolving group, depending on who was available. Band members include Walter Vinson, Charlie McCoy, Lonnie and Sam Chatmon, and Bo Carter. They all lived around Jackson Mississippi. When they weren’t making music, they work on the farm.

Rolling Stone ranked Shieks’ song, “Sitting on Top of the World” number 32 on their list of 100 Greatest Country Songs of all Time. Now it’s time for reminiscence with the Mississipi Sheiks!

And folks, if you like to read more articles about our favorite country stars, check out the Country Thang Daily website or follow us on FacebookTwitterand Instagram.


Mississippi Sheiks, Sitting on Top of the World

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