Joe Cocker – Delta Lady

Leon Russell wrote this song. The “Delta Lady” is Rita Coolidge, who was born in Tennessee and moved to Memphis in 1967, where she met Russell. They started dating, and in 1969 Russell wrote this song about her. He was working on Joe Cocker’s second album at the time, so he contributed this song, which Cocker released as the first single from the set. Russell included the song on his first solo album the following year.

The song peaked at #69 in the Billboard 100 in 1969. The song was off the album Joe Cocker!  that peaked at #11 in 1970. Leon and Rita Coolidge would tour with Cocker and appear on the live Mad Dogs and Englishmen album…Cocker’s highest-charting LP.

It’s always been one of my favorites from Joe…I still can’t help but think of John Belushi when Joe Cocker’s name comes up.


From Songfacts

This song’s muse Rita Coolidge is one of the backing vocalists on the track. In her autobiography, she recalls Cocker recording the song at Russell’s studio on Skyhill Drive in Los Angeles, where she served tea to the musicians and crew. She didn’t know at the time that the song would become her calling card: she named that autobiography Delta Lady.

The song is very sensual, with Cocker singing about finding the Delta Lady “wet and naked in the garden,” and how he thinks about those times when he’s away from her and longs for her touch. No matter where he goes, he thinks of her.

Leon Russell and Rita Coolidge joined Joe Cocker on his Mad Dogs and Englishmen tour, where she would sing “Superstar,” a song written by Russell and Bonnie Bramlett. “Here she is, our own Delta Lady,” Cocker would announce when introducing her, imprinting that appellation.

Russell wrote another song about Rita Coolidge, “A Song For You,” which also appeared on his debut album. The couple split soon after, just as their careers started taking off. Coolidge issued her first album in 1971 and had her first big hit in 1977 with a cover of Jackie Wilson’s “(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher And Higher.”

Delta Lady

Woman of the country now I’ve found you
Longing in your soft and fertile delta
And I whisper sighs to satisfy your longing
For the warmth and tender shelter of my body
Oh you’re my, yes you’re my Delta Lady
Yes, you’re my, me oh my, Delta Lady

Please don’t ask how many times I found you
Standing wet and naked in the garden
And I think of days and different ways I held you
Held you closely to me, yes our heart was beating
Oh you’re my

Oh, and I’m over here in England
But I think of you, think about you
Because I love you

There are concrete mountains in the city
And pretty city women live inside them
And yet it seems the city scene is lacking
I’m so glad you’re waiting for me in the country
Oh you’re my


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

22 thoughts on “Joe Cocker – Delta Lady”

  1. I think I knew that at one time- about Delta Lady being about Rita but If asked I wouldn’t have remembered. Leon an interesting character. A friend of mine saw him towards the end- and while he wasn’t getting around well at all- he said it was a memorable experience. Joe Cocker one of the great interpreters.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Of all the times I’ve seen Leon on film…whether it be the early 70s or more recent…he never did change playing and singing wise…the same Leon…I hate he was that bad off.
      Cocker was that indeed. I got to see him once…his voice live was something else.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Never got to see either- my friend saw Leon early in his career also- and then at the end because he thought this might be my last chance- and it was. …Cocker should have done an album of Beatles songs.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Always liked Leon Russell, and had the good fortune to see him around 2011 or so- like Hans said, he was having some trouble walking I think but still sounded good and was entertaining with his stories. Was very cool, he played a small refurbished theatre in my old hometown so view and sound was very good.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Hearing both versions of the song, I’ve got to go with Leon’s version. I’ve loved his music for a long time. That duet he did with George on Beware of Darkness for Bangladesh concert is burned into my memory. This song rocks out, and like everybody else had no idea it was about Rita Coolidge.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I had it setup as Leon’s version but I was going back and forth…probably my favorite song by Cocker.
      Sorry I feel asleep last night early for a change.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. You must have needed the sleep. The post was good no matter which version was highlighted. What surprises me is that I think of Joe Cocker as being the “wild man” with the toughest/roughest versions of songs. I think Leon has him beat in that respect here. I need to learn more about Leon and his music. Joe Cocker has had a lot of excellent songs, including this one. Tough for me to pick a favorite…

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Leon just seemed like the definition of “cool”…like nothing was going to bother him at all. Talented guy…
        To tell you the truth I don’t know a lot about him either….but he worked with everyone I believe. Joe was a wild man at the start of his career. His songs were really raw also.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes it is…I saw him in concert and that is the song I remember the most him doing…He opened up for Tina Turner.


  4. P.S. Max I found out I can watch youtube on my TV through the wifi and watched, “The Rutles” last night. I laughed my butt off. Brilliant! You know what I thought was the funniest part in the whole thing? The way Eric Idle imitated Paul on stage. Will you do me a favor? Would you please do a post on The Rutles????

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Well, they kind of were. I’d like to learn more about the collaboration between the genius of Monty Python and Saturday Night Live. It seems like it was made at the time when both of these groups of brilliant comedians were at the top of their game. To me, the movie doesn’t make fun of them as much as make them human. On a similar note, I started watching “Living in the Material World” last night. Compelling!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Yea I was a teenager when I thought that.
        Lorne Michaels was a huge fan of Monty Python and the cast were also. Some of Python guest starred on SNL… not sure if that was the start?

        Oh yes! I watched that in one sitting. Great doc about George!


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