Games People Play (Joe South song)
|"Games People Play"|
|Single by Joe South|
|from the album Introspect|
|B-side||"Mirror Of Your Mind"|
|Joe South singles chronology|
"Games People Play" is a song written, composed and performed by singer/songwriter Joe South, released at the end of 1968.
Origins and inspirations
The lyrics and title are thought to be a direct reference to Eric Berne's work on transactional analysis of the same name. The book, which was released in 1964, deals with the "games" human beings play in interacting with one another. The lyrics seem to exhibit their author (South) playing a game of sorts with pronouns, converging in stages on the listener ("you") as perpetrator, roughly from "they" to "we," to "you" (object) and "me," to "you" (subject) and "I."
The song closely resembles an older song, the traditional Cajun "'Tit Galop Pour Mamou", which was played by the Balfa Brothers among others, and is on the Balfas' Play Traditional Cajun Music. After South's hit got around, Nathan Abshire (accordionist with the Balfas and others), recorded a version in French, with singing by Don Guillory, on his album A Cajun Legend. A new Cajun version, introduced by a partial recounting of the genealogy of the versions, is at  under the heading Robert Jardell.
Typical of a number of hits in early 1969, the recording includes a lush string sound, an organ, and brass. The arrangement also features a distinctive electric sitar.
"Games People Play" is a protest song whose lyrics speak against various forms of hate, hypocrisy, inhumanity, and intolerance, both interpersonal and social. The song was released on South's debut album Introspect and as a single, reaching #12 on Billboard magazine's Hot 100. It was also a No. 6 hit in the UK in 1969, was also featured as the title of his second album, Games People Play that year, and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Song and the Grammy Award for Song of the Year. The distinctive guitar at the opening is played on a Danelectro electric sitar, which South also can be heard playing in the opening bars of the mega-hit Chain of Fools by Aretha Franklin. Concurrent with South's version of the song on the pop charts, Freddy Weller, guitarist for Paul Revere and the Raiders, released a country version of the song in 1969 as his debut single on the country charts and reached No. 2 with it.
The song has been covered by various artists, including Bob Andy, The Jordanaires, Winston Francis, Lissie, Lee Dorsey, Ray Stevens, Della Reese, Petula Clark, Tom Jones, Waylon Jennings, Jerry Lee Lewis, Earl Grant, Tesla, Mel Torme, King Curtis (featuring Duane Allman), The Georgia Satellites, Big Tom and The Mainliners, Dolly Parton (on her 1969 album My Blue Ridge Mountain Boy), The Tremeloes, Johnny Johnson and the Bandwagon, Ike & Tina Turner, Dreadzone, Ed Ames, Hank Williams Jr., YOYO, Inner Circle, DJ Bobo, Henning Kvitnes, Liverpool Express, Jools Holland (with guest vocalist Marc Almond), Dick Gaughan, James Taylor, Johnnie Taylor, David Knopfler, Truth & Salvage Co., Bettye LaVette, Peggy Sue, and Niamh Dunne (2013, in her solo album, "Portraits"; a Beoga member).
Claude François released a French version of the song as "Jeux Dangereux."
Renée Martel released another French version of the song as "Nos Jeux d'Enfants."