The Mighty Flood (Tupelo Blues)

Lyrics: John Lee Hooker
Music: John Lee Hooker

Played by Pigpen on 18 April 1970, in a show billed as Mickey and the Hartbeats and Bobby Ace and the Cards from the Bottom of the Deck. Thanks to Dan Franzen for the transcription of the lyrics below. Although it is credited to "Trad arr McKernan", it seems to be mainly the John Lee Hooker song Tupelo Blues, with parts of the last verse ("rowed a little boat about five miles across the pond") coming from another John Lee Hooker song I Rowed A Little Boat (though that itself derives from earlier songs).

Did you hear about the flood
Was a long time ago
Way down
In Tupelo, Mississippi
It was a mighty time
When all the people went down

There was women
There was children
They lost their life
In the mighty flood
Down in Tupelo

There was women
There was children
They went down
In a mighty flood

There was lots of people
They were dying
There was yelling and screaming
Screaming and crying
At the mighty flood
And the howls went on

I tell you about it now
And the howls went on
'Cause I rowed a little boat
'Bout five miles across a pond
Looking for people to save
And get up on
Ain't no way
You can keep it on
You got to keep on keeping on
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     18 Apr 1970 Family Dog at the Great Highway

Origins

John Lee Hooker's "Tupelo Blues" has lyrics:
Did you read about the flood
Happened long time ago
In Tupelo, Mississippi
There were thousands o' lives
Destroyed

It rained, it rained
Both night and day
The poor people was worried
Didn't have no place to go

Could hear may people, cryin', Lord, have mercy
'Cause You're the only one that we can turn to

Happened a long time ago
A little town
Way back in Mississippi
In Tupelo

There was women, and there was children
They were screamin' an' cryin'
Cryin', Lord, have mercy
You're the only one now, that we can turn to

Way back down in Mississippi, a little country town
I know you read about it
'Cause I'll never forget it
The mighty flood in Tupelo, Mississippi
Been years ago

Lord, have mercy
Wasn't that a mighty time
Tupelo's gone
The John Lee Hooker song "I Rowed A Little Boat" has lyrics:
You know I rowed a little boat
Five miles cross the pond
You know I rowed a little boat
'Bout five miles cross the pond
I throwed my things in the little boat
It rolled me right along

It was thunderin' and lightnin'
But it rolled me right along
It was thunderin' and lightnin'
Oh yeah, it rolled me right along
There were thousands of people
They didn't have no place to go

Little children they were screamin'
And cryin', oh yeah
The wind was howlin'
They didnt have no place to go
There were thousands of people
They's goin' from door to door

My little boat kept rollin'
It kept on rollin
You know it rolled me right along
Kept on rollin
Kept on rollin
Kept on rollin
Kept on rollin
The song "I Rowed Five Miles" seems to be based on an earlier song "Back Water Blues" by either Bessie Smith or Lonnie Johnson::
It rained five days and the skies turned dark as night
It rained five days and the skies turned dark as night
And trouble's takin' place way down in the lowlands at night

I woke up this mornin', and I couldn't get out my door
I woke up this mornin', and I couldn't get out my door
It was so much a trouble, make a poor man wonder where he wants to go

And they rowed a little boat, about five miles 'cross the pond
And they rowed a little boat, about five miles 'cross the pond
I packed up all of my things and throwed them in, baby, then they rowed me along

And I climbed upon a high, old, lonesome hill
Yes, I climbed upon a high, old, lonesome hill
And looked down on the house, baby, where I used to live

Then it thundered and it lightnin', and the wind began to blow
And it thundered and it lightnin', and the wind began to blow
There was so many poor people, didn't have no place to go


Futher Information
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography

 


Home | Find words/phrases| Find Song lyrics| Dead originals| Dead covers|