Song of the Day #1,035: ‘Mississippi’ – Sheryl Crow

Here is the second Bob Dylan song in this two-week series, and interestingly, the first Sheryl Crow song I’ve featured. I’m not a huge Sheryl Crow fan, but I’m surprised I went 1,034 songs without choosing one of hers.

‘Mississippi’ is an interesting case because Crow covered it before Dylan’s original was even released. Dylan first recorded the song in 1997 for Time Out of Mind but decided to leave it off of that album. Instead he allowed Crow to record it for her 1998 album The Globe Sessions.

Dylan would revisit the song three years later for 2001’s Love and Theft, and it’s that version that has become the definitive one.

Crow’s version is much lighter and poppier. I like it well enough, but I think it demolishes the argument that Dylan’s songs sound better sung by somebody other than Dylan. Sure, his voice is (extremely) limited, but in some cases it’s exactly the voice the song needs.

Still, I give Crow credit for tackling this modern-day classic… it took a lot of guts to make her version of this storied Dylan track the first one to show up on an official release.

Every step of the way we walk the line
Your days are numbered, so are mine
Time is pilin’ up, we struggle and we scrape
We’re all boxed in, nowhere to escape

City’s just a jungle; more games to play
Trapped in the heart of it, tryin’ to get away
I was raised in the country, I been workin’ in the town
I been in trouble ever since I set my suitcase down

Got nothin’ for you, I had nothin’ before
Don’t even have anything for myself anymore
Sky full of fire, pain pourin’ down
Nothing you can sell me, I’ll see you around

All my powers of expression and thoughts so sublime
Could never do you justice in reason or rhyme
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well, the devil’s in the alley, mule’s in the stall
Say anything you wanna, I have heard it all
I was thinkin’ ’bout the things that Rosie said
I was dreaming I was sleepin’ in Rosie’s bed

Walkin’ through the leaves, falling from the trees
Feelin’ like a stranger nobody sees
So many things that we never will undo
I know you’re sorry, I’m sorry too

Some people will offer you their hand and some won’t
Last night I knew you, tonight I don’t
I need somethin’ strong to distract my mind
I’m gonna look at you ’til my eyes go blind

Well I got here followin’ the southern star
I crossed that river just to be where you are
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

Well my ship’s been split to splinters and it’s sinkin’ fast
I’m drownin’ in the poison, got no future, got no past
But my heart is not weary, it’s light and it’s free
I’ve got nothin’ but affection for all those who’ve sailed with me

Everybody movin’ if they ain’t already there
Everybody got to move somewhere
Stick with me baby, stick with me anyhow
Things should start to get interestin’ right about now

My clothes are wet, tight on my skin
Not as tight as the corner that I painted myself in
I know that fortune is waitin’ to be kind
So give me your hand and say you’ll be mine

Well, the emptiness is endless, cold as the clay
You can always come back, but you can’t come back all the way
Only one thing I did wrong
Stayed in Mississippi a day too long

2 thoughts on “Song of the Day #1,035: ‘Mississippi’ – Sheryl Crow

  1. Dana says:

    I too like Dylan’s recording better, but this is certainly a decent take on the song.

    I haven’t really followed Crow’s career beyond her fresh and wonderful Tuesday Night Music Club with the infectious “All I Wanna Do.” I know the Globe Sessions is a critically acclaimed album that you have also heralded, but I don’t think I’ve heard more than a few tracks from that. Still, I’m glad her exile from your blog has come to an end:)

  2. I’m with you Dana I like Dylan’s version better. I do have to say though Sheryl Crow does a good job with this. I find it quite catchy.

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