I would have liked to have met Joe South, the American song writer and singer. Joe’s song writing was poetic, lyrical, wise, grounded, real and lasting. His lyrics carry a message and his style of entertainment, although not flashy nor flamboyant, was totally engaging because of his commitment to his message. He was a words man; and I like his words!
Some of his songs were Don’t it make you want to go Home; Walk a Mile in my Shoes; Rose Garden; Children; Birds of a Feather and These are not my People. There are many others and a quick Google search will show just how many other artists have covered his songs. Elvis sang South’s Walk a Mile in my Shoes which is as absolutely relevant today as it was in 1968 when written.
These lyrics remind us that what we see around us is a reflection of what we choose to see and believe and that our bias’ can so easily blind us to a real truth. It’s a reminder that compassion before criticism, experience before ego and understanding before accusation just might heal some of the divisions we see all to commonly in our world today.
But the real reason I am writing about Joe South is for his masterpiece Games People Play for which he won a Grammy Award for Song of the Year in 1970. To make a statement about just how powerful this song is, wikipedia makes the claim that it has been covered by 39 artists; Hank Williams Jnr, Bill Hayley and the Comets, Jerry Lee Lewis, Petula Clark, Dionne Warwick and Conway Twitty to list just a few.
The games people play now every night and every day now never meanin’ what they say now never sayin’ what they mean. While they wile away the hours in their ivory towers ’til they’re covered up with flowers in the back of a black limousine.
This song is a call to integrity, truth, purpose, reality and a commitment to do something of value with our lives because at some stage we will all be covered up with flowers in the back of a black limousine.
Joe South: February 28, 1940 – September 5, 2012