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