Sittin On Top of the World

Before Arthel Lane Watson reached the age of two, he lost his sight to an eye infection. Being from a musical family, his parents gave him instruments to play with and purchased a phonograph so the youngster could listen to his favorite songs.

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As Watson grew, his depth of interest in folk music, old-time ballads, country music and bluegrass also grew. He became proficient on several instruments most notably guitar, 5-string banjo and harmonica. In the 1930s the brother duet, The Delmore Brothers were huge recording stars and young Arthel was a big fan. One of their hit songs, “Big River Blues” became a favorite of Arthel.

He played the 78 rpm disc over and over trying to duplicate the intricate picking that he heard on the recording. Frustrated, he finally settled on an arrangement that was close enough to the original.

Watson began performing at dances and making radio appearances. One broadcaster asked his name, then suggested that “Arthel” was a little odd for radio. An engineer shouted out, “Call him Doc.”

Doc Watson went onto a long and successful performing and recording career, traveling the world and winning seven Grammy Awards. Somewhere along the way Doc finally got to meet his childhood idols, Alton and Rabon Delmore, The Delmore Brothers, backstage at a show.

Doc confided to the two that he always did have trouble duplicating the picking arrangement of “Big River Blues,” which Doc renamed “Deep River Blues,” saying, “Which one of you fellows did the picking on that song? I could never get it.”

Alton replied, “Oh Doc, we both did. There was TWO guitars playing on that record.”

Click here or on the photo to listen to Doc’s arrangement of “Sittin On Top of the World."

Was in the spring one sunny day

my sweetheart left me Lord she went away

and now she’s gone and I don’t worry

Lord I’m settin on top of the world


She called me up from down in El Paso

she said come back daddy, ooh I need you so

and now she’s gone and I don’t worry

Lord I’m settin on top of the world


If you don’t like my peaches don’t you shake my tree

get out of my orchard let my peaches be

and now she’s gone and I don’t worry

Lord I’m settin on top of the world


Don’t you come here running holdin out your hand

I’m gonna get me a woman like you got your man

and now she’s gone and I don’t worry

Lord I’m settin on top of the world


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