Sittin' On Top Of The World

Lyrics: Walter Jacobs, Lonnie Carter
Music: Walter Jacobs, Lonnie Carter

Played frequently by the Grateful Dead in their earliest days, but then more rarely until the final performances on their European tour in 1972. These are the lyrics as on their first album:

Mississippi river, so big and wide
Blonde-headed woman on the other side
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

I worked all summer, spring and fall
Blonde-headed woman, she's the cause of it all
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Saw her in Dallas, in El Paso
So come back baby, I need you so
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Mississippi river, so big and wide
Blonde-headed woman on the other side
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world
The later versions in 1972 included an additional verse (thanks to Eric Levy for pointing this out to me, and for his other help with the background to this song):
Mississippi river, so big and wide
Blonde-headed woman on the other side
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

I worked all summer, spring and fall
Blonde-headed woman was the cause of it all
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Don't come here running, holding out your hand
I have me a woman, you can grab your man
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Saw her in Dallas, in El Paso
Blonde-headed woman, you know I need you so
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Don't come here running, holding out your hand
I have me a woman, you can have your man
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Mississippi river, so big and wide
Blonde-headed woman on the other side
Now she's gone, gone, gone and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     live Jul 1966 Birth Of The Dead (note 1)
      studio 1967 The Grateful Dead
     Fillmore 1967 Grateful Dead Documentary (note 2)
      8 Feb 1970 Bear's Choice (note 3)
     27 Apr 1969 Dick's Picks Vol 26
     21 Oct 1971 Dave's Picks Volume 3
     18 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings
     23 May 1972 Steppin' Out with the Grateful Dead: England '72 (note 4)
     25 May 1972 Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings

Notes
(1) originally released as part of the Rhino box set The Golden Road (1965-1973)
(2) The Grateful Dead Documentary by Michael Wanger and Vance Frost includes (longish) excerpts from a version of "Sitting On Top Of The World" listed as "Live at the Fillmore 1967"
(3) included as a bonus track on remastered album, first released as part of the box set The Golden Road (1965-1973)
(4) also on the box set Europe '72 - The Complete Recordings

Origins
Jerry Garcia gave two slightly different explanations in the 1960s about the background to the song. One was in the "Grateful Dead Documentary" produced by Vance Frost and Michael Wanger:
"I originally heard the tune off a Carl Perkins record and he was, like, a good country guy, country guitar player, and he played finger style, and he did a kind of a rockabilly version of Sittin' on Top of the World."
The other was in an interview with Ralph Gleason, reproduced in "The Grateful Dead Reader":
"Sittin' on Top of the World is another traditional song that was copyrighted some time not too long ago by some country and western guy but it's still essentially a folk song. There are just two or three verses and they're standard blues verses that turn up everywhere."
The song was originally written by The Mississippi Sheiks, and recorded by them in 1930. The tune and the chorus are pretty much as the Dead played it (though the Dead's version is much faster), but the lyrics for the verses are very different, with only some fragments of verses in common:
Worked all the summer, and all the fall
Just trying to find my little 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
Just when she left me, she's 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 have been days, I didn't know your name
Why should I worry and pray 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
Gonna 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
The Carl Perkins' version is played at a similar fast tempo to the Dead's, and shares most of the same verses - including those not in the Mississippi Sheik's original version. But, interestingly, Carl Perkins doesn't sing the "Saw her in Dallas ..." verse that Garcia sings. The Carl Perkins lyrics are:
You come here running, holding out your hand
I can get me a woman, you can have your man
Lord I'm gone, I don't worry
Baby I'm sitting on top of the world

Mississippi river so deep and wide
My baby's standing on the other side
Lord I'm gone, I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world

You come here running, holding out your hand
I can get me a woman, you can have your man
Lord I'm gone, I don't worry
Baby I'm sitting on top of the world

Work all summer, work all the fall
Blond-headed chicken, she caused it all
Lord I'm gone, I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world

You come here running, holding out your hand
Get me a woman, you can have your man
Lord I'm gone, I don't worry
Lord I'm sitting on top of the world
Lord I'm sitting on top of the world
Sittin' On Top Of The World has been covered by a wide range of performers. Bob Wills recorded a much slower version in the 1930s, including some verses borrowed from other songs (eg "Stealing"):
All the summer, all the fall
Tryin' to find my little all and all
And now she's gone, I don't worry
I'm sittin' on top of the world
Yes the world

There has been days, didn't know your name
Why should I worry, sit around and blame
And now you're gone, I don't worry (not much)
I'm sittin' on top of the world
Of the world

You've seen me stealin', don't tell on me
Just stealin' back to, my same old used to be
But now she's gone, and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world

Late in the evening, honey babe, way after school
Remember darling, we broke the rule
And now you're gone, and I don't worry
I'm sittin' on top of the world

We never had one girl at a time
We always had seven eight or nine
But now they're gone, but we don't worry (at least not much)
'Cause we're sittin' on top of the world

I'm going to the station, way down in the yard
Gonna catch me a freight train, work's done got hard
And though she's gone, I don't worry
'Cause I'm sittin' on top of the world
Among others versions, Jerry Garcia would almost certainly have heard the Bill Monroe version, which included the "Dallas/El Paso" verse that the Dead sang:
It was in the spring one sunny day
My good gal left me Lord she went away
But now she's gone but I don't worry
Lord I'm sitting on top of the world

She called me in Dallas, in El Paso
Said come on, daddy, I need you so
But now she's gone but I don't worry
Lord I'm sitting on top of the world

Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Show me a woman a man can trust
But now she's gone but I don't worry
Lord I'm sitting on top of the world

The Mississippi River, long, deep and wide
The woman I'm loving is on the other side
But now she's gone but I don't worry
Lord I'm sitting on top of the world

[the next two verses were not on all Bill Monroe versions]
You don't like my peaches, don't you shake my tree
Get out of my orchard, let my peaches be
And now she's gone but I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world

Don't you come here running, holding out your hand
I'll get me a woman like you got your man
And now she's gone but I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world
Another series of versions derive from that recorded by Howlin' Wolf, which formed the basis for covers by Cream and many other groups:
One summer day, she went away
She gone and left me, she gone to stay
But now she gone, and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world

Worked all the summer, and worked all the fall
I had to take my Christmas, in my overall
But now she gone, and I don't worry
Because I'm sitting on top of the world

Goin' down to the freight yard, just to meet a freight train
I'm gonna leave this town, well it's just got too hard
But now she gone, and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world

One summer day, she went away
She gone and left me, she gone to stay
But now she gone, and I don't worry
'Cause I'm sitting on top of the world