Games People Play

Album: Best Of Joe South: Retrospect (1969)
Charted: 6 12


  • 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.
  • 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. It was originally released in 1968 as Introspect before being reissued as Games People Play when the title track became a hit.
  • Joe South won Grammy Awards for Song of the Year and Best Contemporary Song for this.
  • South 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."

Comments: 9

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn this day in 1969 {June 8th} Freddy Weller's covered version of "Games People Play" peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} on Billboard's Hot Country Singles chart, for the two weeks it was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "Running Bear" by Sonny James...
    Between 1969 and 1980 the Atlanta, Georgia native had twenty six records on the Hot Country Singles chart, six* made the Top 10 with the above "Games People Play" being his biggest hit...
    Besides "Games People Play", his other five Top 10 records were "These Are Not My People" {#5 in 1969}, "The Promised Land" {#3 in 1971}, "Indian Lake" {#3 in 1971}, "Another Night of Love" {#5 in 1971}, and "Too Much Monkey Business" {#8 in 1973}...
    Freddy Weller, born Wilton Frederick Weller, will celebrate his 73rd birthday in three months on September 9th, 2020...
    *He just missed having two more Top 10 records when both his "She Loves Me (Right Out of My Mind)" and "I've Just Got To Know (How Loving You Would Be)" peaked at #11...
    And from the 'For What It's Worth' department, the remainder of the Hot Country Singles' Top 10 on June 8th, 1969:
    At #3. "I'll Share My World With You" by George Jones
    #4. "Mr. Walker, It's All Over" by Billie Jo Spears
    #5. "Cajun Baby" by Hank Williams Jr.
    #6. "When Two Worlds Collide" by Jim Reeves
    #7. "Singing My Song" by Tammy Wynette
    #8. "I Love You More Today" by Conway Twitty
    #9. "My Life" by Bill Anderson
    #10. "Statue of A Fool" by Jack Greene
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 28th, 1969, "Games People Play" by Joe South entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on February 8th, 1970 it peaked at #12 (for 2 weeks) and also spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    Between 1958 and 1971 he had eight Top 100 hits; with "Games People Play" being his biggest hit...
    R.I.P. Mr. South (1940 - 2012).
  • Dimges from Skopje, MacedoniaThe Squires ‎– Games People Play / Funky Bayswater
    Label: Vega ‎– 3.511
    Format: Vinyl, 7", 45 RPM, Single
    Country: France
    Released: 1969

    Billy Preston, Tom Jones & Engelbert Humperdinck on the unknown TV show in 1970(?), perform fantastic version of this hit... see on Youtube.
  • Linda from Inland Empire, CaThe lyrics of this song are just as pertinent today as they were when they were written.
  • Coy from Palestine, TxJoe played a Danelectro electric sitar on this record to give it the strange opening intro. South also played guitar on "Sweet Pea" by Tommy Roe!
  • Rob from Detroit, MiJoe also wrote and recorded "Don't it Make You Want to Go Home," a staple in my Ipod.
  • Bill from Atlanta, GaJoe was one great song-writer, including hits for other artists, like: "Down in the Boondocks" a #9 hit for Billy Joe Royal; "Hush" Deep Purple's first american hit, a #4 Billboard hit; The Osmonds' "Yo-Yo", charted #3
  • Ken from Louisville, KyJoe South did have one additional U.S. hit song called "Walk A Mile In My Shoes".
  • Joshua from Twin Cities, MnThis was covered by the band Tesla on their 1994 album Bust A Nut. Unlike Joe South, Tesla didn't bother editing out the word "damn" from the final verse.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Justin Timberlake

Justin TimberlakeFact or Fiction

Was Justin the first to be Punk'd by Ashton Kutcher? Did Britney really blame him for her meltdown? Did his bandmates think he was gay?

Female Singers Of The 90s

Female Singers Of The 90sMusic Quiz

The ladies who ruled the '90s in this quiz.


MetallicaFact or Fiction

Beef with Bon Jovi? An unfortunate Spandex period? See if you can spot the true stories in this Metallica version of Fact or Fiction.

Gene Simmons of Kiss

Gene Simmons of KissSongwriter Interviews

The Kiss rocker covers a lot of ground in this interview, including why there are no Kiss collaborations, and why the Rock Hall has "become a sham."

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About Transgenderism

Trans Soul Rebels: Songs About TransgenderismSong Writing

A history of songs dealing with transgender issues, featuring Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Morrissey and Green Day.

James Bond Theme Songs

James Bond Theme SongsMusic Quiz

How well do you know the 007 theme songs?