Joe South – Games People Play

I had this single when I was a kid that was passed down from a cousin. Joe South was a great songwriter. He wrote songs such as Hush, Rose Garden, Walk A Mile In My Shoes, and Down in the Boondocks.

Joe South did not record any more hits, but he did write and record the original version of Rose Garden, which three years later became a hit for the country artist Lynn Anderson.

He was originally a session man, and among the hits he played the guitar on are Aretha Franklin’s “Chain Of Fools,” Tommy Roe’s “Sheila” and Simon & Garfunkel’s “The Sound Of Silence.” He also played on Bob Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde album.

The Games People Play album was one of the first to be multitracked. Joe South performed all the vocal and instrumental parts himself, and some consider it the first ever Country-Soul album.

South won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Contemporary Song for this.

From Songfacts

Written by Joe South, this song is about how people can go through life preoccupied with negative thoughts. Instead of living lives of service and accomplishment, they deceive others in an effort to get ahead, which ultimately leads to unhappiness.

 It was originally released in 1968 as Introspect before being reissued as Games People Play when the title track became a hit.

Mel Tormé recorded a notable cover version of this song later in 1969 which appeared on his A Time for Us album. The prominent bass in his version was performed by Carol Kaye, who was one of the studio musicians behind hits for The Monkees, The Beach Boys, Joe Cocker and many others. In a Songfacts interview with Carol Kaye, she talked about this session: “There was one time when I overplayed on bass to try to wake up a drummer. The drummer was in on tour and he was sleeping. You could tell that. And it was a big band. He was slowing down in the parts and the part that I was playing was slow according to the tune. The tune required just a few notes on my part, so somebody in the band said, ‘Do something, Carol.’ So I played a lot of notes and it woke up the drummer. And I walked in the booth after the take, and I said, ‘Now we can do a take.’ And they looked at me and laughed and said, ‘That was the take.’ I said, ‘Oh, no, that’s a bass solo.’

The bass part that I invented is a test now at schools around the world. And he’s just going, ‘La di da’ and here’s all this bass and stuff coming in. I thought, That’ll never be a hit. And it was a big smash hit for him.”

Games People Play

La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da-da, da-dee
La-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da-da

Whoa, the games people play now
Every night and every day now
Never meanin’ what they say now
Never sayin’ what they mean

While they wile away the hours
In their ivory towers
‘Til they’re covered up with flowers
In the back of a black limousine

La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da da, da-dee
Talkin’ ’bout you and me
And the games people play now

Whoa, we make one another cry
Break a heart then we say goodbye
Cross our hearts and we hope to die
That the other was to blame

But neither one will ever give in
So we gaze at an eight by ten
Thinkin’ ’bout the things that might have been
And it’s a dirty rotten shame

La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da da, da-dee
Talkin’ ’bout you and me
And the games people play now

Oh, yes
Oh, alright
Oh, yes
C’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon, c’mon

Whoa oh-oh-oh-oh-oh

Now look here
People walkin’ up to you
Singin’ glory hallelujah, ha-ha
And they try and to sock it to you
In the name of the Lord

They’re gonna teach you how to meditate
Read your horoscope, cheat your fate
And furthermore to hell with hate
Come on, get on board

La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da da, da-dee
Talkin’ ’bout you and me
And the games people play

Now, wait a minute
Look around tell me what you see?
What’s happenin’ to you and me?
God grant me the serenity
To just remember who I am

‘Cause you’ve given up your sanity
For your pride and your vanity
Turn you back on humanity
Oh, and you don’t give a
Da, da, da, da, da

La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da da, da-dee
I’ll keep a-talkin’ ’bout you and me, brother
And the games people play now, now

La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da
La-da-da, da-da da, da-dee
Gonna talk ’bout you and me
Oh, and the games people play
I wonder can you come out and play?
Early in the mornin’, whoa yes
Talkin’ ’bout you and me
And the games people play now


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

36 thoughts on “Joe South – Games People Play”

    1. I like that version Deke…thats the same album that has Another Chance. They did some fun covers like Ringo Starr’s song he wrote called Don’t Pass Me By.
      It’s a damn shame they are not together now.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a great songwriter- and what a great loss that he walked away from it all after such a short period of time. He was one of the best songwriters of the late 60’s- early 70s. Introspect a fantastic album.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes he was…those songs are so impressive to come from one person. I was wondering why he walked away for…I just read a little about him.

      Some songs take you back to childhood…this one does for me.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Excellent song… like you, I do remember it from my childhood. And good background on Joe… I knewhis name but couldn’t quite place from what or where. I need to listen to this again on a good system to focus on the bass, I really like it when the bass steps up in a song so to speak – and Carol was one of the best.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh, yeah…great song that is also part of my childhood. And, I love hearing about Carol Kaye. The Wrecking Crew doc was awesome.

    I always have to make sure I know “which” Games People Play… Not only do I like this but, I also like Alan Parsons Project’s song (not a remake).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I got confused on that also when someone was talking about it…of course the songs are not similar at all.


      1. Oh I’m sorry! I was looking for a reggae version of Don’t Go Home to Rockville… I picked the wrong panel to reply to!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. He did write some cool and famous songs.
      I forgot to post something also… My family also had a small recording studio and I have a photo of the receipt he signed in 1964 for studio time….just a fun thing.


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