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This traditional blues song has been recorded by many artists over the years. Originally written by the Mississippi Sheiks around 1930, it was the Sheiks' biggest hit, selling several million copies. That's right, it went platinum, by today's standards, way back in the 30's, when the music recording industry was in its earliest infancy, and during the great depression no less!

The original version version goes like this:

Worked all the summer, and all the fall,
Just tryin' to find my lil' all in all,
But now she's gone, I don't worry.
I'm sitting on top of the world

Was in the spring, one summer day,
Jus' when she left me, she gone to stay,
But now she's gone, I don't worry.
I'm sitting on top of the world.

Don't you come here runnin', holdin' up your hand,
Can't get me a woman, quick as you get a man.
But now she's gone, I don't worry,
I'm sitting on top of the world

It has been days, I didn't know your name,
Why should I worry and prayer in vain,
But now she's gone, I don't worry.
I'm sitting on top of the world.

Went to the station, down in the yard,
Gon' get me a freight train, work done 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?
But now she's gone, I don't worry.
I'm sitting on top of the world.

Another excellent version was recorded by Howlin' Wolf. It was this version that was famously covered by Cream on their Wheels of Fire album, as well as many others.

One summer day, she went away,
She gone and left me, she gone to stay,
But now she gone, and I can't worry,
Because I'm sittin' on top of the world.

Worked all the summer, worked all the fall,
I had to take my Christmas in my overalls.
But now she gone, and I don't worry.
Sittin' on top of the world.

Goin' down to the freight yard, catch me a freight train
I'm gon' leave this town, work done got hard.
But now she gone, and I don't worry.
Sittin' on top of the world.

Other famous renditions of this song (with their various extra verses and minor lyrical changes) can be found by Carl Perkins, Bob Wills, Bill Monroe, and the Grateful Dead.

I think what makes this song such an important, arresting piece of traditional American music is its simple, elegant distillation of the Blues. If someone asks what it means when someone says "I've got the Blues," you can tell them it means "Life sucks, but I don't worry, cause I'm sittin' on top of the world!" The ironic, existential stoicism associated with the Blues is here in its most elemental form. It's the kind of thing that reaches out to just about everybody, no matter who they are, which is part of the reason why the Blues has been more or less the lingua franca of popular music since that time.

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