Alright, seriously. I love this song. I can remember the first time I heard it. It was a summer afternoon, and my dad and I were riding in the car. His car didn’t have air condition and I was trying to convince him to test drive cars (even though we had no intention of buying one) so that we could ride around in some air condition for a while. Anyhow, he had made a mixed tape from one of the albums that he had, and this song was on there. It was love at first sound.
So, for years I’ve been arguing/heatedly discussing with people the lyrics; particularly in the chorus:
“Papa was a rolling stone/wherever he laid his hat was his home/and when he died/all he left us was ________”
Exactly. Is it “a loan” or “alone”? I firmly believe that it is “a loan”…and here’s why-
The song starts of by saying:
“It was the 3rd of September/That day I’ll always remember (Yes, I will)/Cause that was the day that my daddy died/I never got a chance to see him/Never heard nothing but bad things about him/Mama, I’m depending on you to tell me the truth…”
So, the way I figure is- you can’t leave me alone if I never knew you. Seriously.
Some other lyrics from the song that I believe support this:
“Hey Mama, Is it true, what they say that Papa never worked a day in his life?…Heard some talk about Papa doin’ some storefront preachin’. Talkin’ about savin’ souls, and all the time leechin’. Dealin’ in debt! And stealing in the name of the Lord…” ~Verse 2
“Hey, Mama, I heard Papa call himself a jack of all trades. Tell me, is that what sent Papa to an early grave? Folks say Papa would beg, borrow, or steal to pay his bills…”~Verse 3
So to continue with my reasoning- we find in verse 2 that he was “dealin’ in debt and stealing in the name of the Lord” and in verse 3 we learn that he would “beg, borrow, or steal to pay his bills.” This would mean that when he died he owed people money. And when people die, you or rather the family/the estate has to settle their debts. That said, he left them “a loan”- meaning they had to settle his debts with their own money.
Whew…hope that makes sense. I’m sure there will be some debate on this. But it’s just what I believe. What do you think?