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Janis Joplin - Ball and Chain - Live at Monterey 1967

This was written and originally recorded by a blues singer named Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton, who recorded the original version of "Hound Dog." The ball and chain is an image associated with prisoners, as a weighted ball attached to a chain would be shackled to an inmate's leg to keep him from escaping. In this song, Thornton relates the image to her man, who is keeping her down.

Joplin's interpretation of this song solidified her reputation as an incredibly soulful performer who can handle the gnarliest of the blues. A staple of her live performances, she sang it at the Monterey Pop Festival in 1967 and also at Woodstock. She recorded the song in 1968 with her band Big Brother and the Holding Company, and after her death in 1971, the song appeared on many of her compilation albums.


Sitting down by my window

Honey, looking out at the rain

Sitting down by my window, looking out at the rain

All around that I felt it

All I can see was the rain

Something grabbed a hold of me

Feel to me, oh, like a ball and chain

Hey, you know what I mean that's exactly what it felt like

But that's way too heavy for you, you can't hold them all

And I say, oh, whoa, whoa, oh, that cannot be

Just because I got oh, your love, please

Why does every

Oh, this can't be just because I got to need you, daddy

Please don't you knock it down now, please

Here you've gone today

What I wanted to love you and I wanted to hold you, yeah, till the day I die

Yes, I did, yes, I did, yeah, hey, hey, alright

Say, whoa, whoa, whoa, honey

This can't be anything I've ever wanted from your daddy tell me now

Oh, tell me, baby

Oh, say, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, honey

This can't be, no, no, no, no, no

Yeah, yeah

I hope there's someone out there who could tell me

Tell me why just because I got to want your love

Honey, just because I got to need, need, need, need your love

I said I understand

Honey, what I'm wanna trying to say hi

Trying, try, try, try, try, try, try

Honey, everybody in the world, also same, baby

When everybody in the world what needs, seem lonely

What I wanted work for your love, daddy

What I wanted trust your love, daddy

I din't understand how come you're gone

I don't understand why half the world is still crying, man

And the other half of the world is still crying too, man

I can't get it together

I mean if you go to ? Oneday, man

I mean, so baby, you want ? Three and sixty five days, right

You ain't gonna within sixty five days, you gonna for one day, man

I tell you, that one day, man, better be your life, man

Because you know, you can stay oh man, you can cry about the other three and sixty four, man I said whoa, whoa, whoa

But you gonna lose that one day, man

That's all you got, you got to call it love, man

That's what it is, man

If you got today, you don't worry about tomorrow, man

Because you don't need it

Because the matter of the fact, as we discovered tat's rain, tomorrow never happens, man

It's all the same fucking day, man

So you gotta when you want to hold someone

You gotta hold them like it's the last minutes of your life

You gotta hold, hold, hold and I say, oh, whoa, whoa, now babe, tell me why

Hold, baby, 'cause some come on your shoulder, baby

It's gonna feel too heavy, it's gonna weigh on you why does every thing, every thing

It's gonna feel just like a ball

Oh, daddy and a chain

Songwriters: Willie Mae Thornton

Ball and Chain lyrics © Carlin America Inc


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