Mountain guitarist Leslie West said of this song: "When Corky (Laing, drummer) brought me the idea, it was a one-chord dance song. We got real high, took out a napkin, and I came up with the main riff and the chords. Then we fit the words over the sound." Laing says of the song: "I was madly in love with The Band, and I decided to put a 'Cripple Creek' feel behind it. Later on, I told Levon Helm that I felt bad about ripping him off, but he said that he didn't hear any similarity between the 2 songs, and that we didn't owe them any money!"
Corky Laing started working on this song with David Rea, who was a friend of the band and frequent collaborator - he and Mountain bass player Felix Pappalardi were in Ian & Sylvia's band. The only Mississippi city mentioned in the song is Vicksburg, which according to Rea is because that's what he came up with when Laing asked him if he knew any towns in the state. Vicksburg is a small city on the Mississippi River known as the site of a famous Civil War battle in 1863.
The song is about a seductive woman who teaches the singer a thing or two about the ways of love, but with the success of "Proud Mary" a year earlier, it almost sounds like this could be another song about a riverboat. In 1976, the "Mississippi Queen" riverboat was put into service by the Delta Queen company, taking its last cruise in 2008.
This is one of the most famous cowbell songs of all time, but the band didn't envision the instrument in the song. In our interview with Leslie West, he explained: "The cowbell in the beginning was just in there because Felix wanted Corky to count the song off. So we used the cowbell to count it off - it wasn't put in there on purpose. And it became the quintessential cowbell song."
Mississippi is a special place for Leslie West not only because of this song, but because it's where he had part of his leg amputated. On June 18, 2011, the day after playing a show at the Hard Rock Cafe in Biloxi, West's right leg began to swell and he was taken to the emergency room in a Biloxi hospital, where it was amputated below the knee to save his life (West is diabetic). West told us: "When I play 'Mississippi Queen' now, I think about Jesus Christ. Of all places to lose my leg, it was Mississippi."
TV, movie and video game uses of this song include:
The title of a episode of the anime series Cowboy Bebop The Simpsons in the 1996 "Homerpalooza" episode The Dukes of Hazzard movie in 2005 Guitar Hero III in 2007 Rock Band in 2007 The Expendables movie in 2010 Regular Show in "Weekend at Benson's," 2012
This was used in a popular commercial for Miller Genuine Draft beer where some guys traveling in a jungle open a bottle of the beer to magically freeze the body of water separating them from some lovely ladies who beckon.
Jim from West Palm Beach, FlVicksburg, Miss. is where the Union won control of the Mississippi in 1863. Grant was the general, and he had superior numbers in troops and supplies. The South could not hold.
Camille from Toronto, OhWell, this was never a favorite of mine. Heard it on the car radio yesterday and looked up the lyrics today. I don't think they're east to understand. However, the ones posted here have **** where they sing the word Vicksburg. I always knew they sang that word, so not sure why someone thought they were singing profanity? No one addresses the use of the word Queen. Especially since he says, if you know what I mean, after using the word. Is he with a guy or a girl? Even tho I don't care much for the song, I can understand why some elevate it to a kind of Free Bird status. Oh, and it does put me in the mind of Cripple Creek, I can see the similarity there, except I love Cripple Creek and this song not so much.
Terry from Va.beach, Vaanybody need to know what the lyrics are when he says "went down around.."vicksburg"
Ryan from Anahola, HiI gotta have more cowbell!
Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaNantucket Sleighride was my last 8-track tape bought & my intro to Mountain -- rockin' good tunes!
Mike from Matawan, NjAgree 100%, Ricco. No "Theme From An Imaginary Western"??? WTF?? "Mississippi Queen" has reached "Freebird" status with me. The minute I hear that song on the radio, I immediately tune to another station.
Owen from Cromwell, CtThere's a sour note in the cowbell part that always bugs me. I didn't really know a cowbell could have "notes" per se, but Corky manages to hit a bad one. Never figured out why they didn't re-record that part.
Lisas from Rocklanc Co>, AlgeriaMountain is prob the Best Bend in the worls
Ricco from Tejas, AngolaThe best Mountain song would have to be "Theme From An Imaginary Western." Great guitar work!
Cyberpope from Richmond, CanadaMountain's best song, IMO, was "Nantucket Sleighride"(on album of that name, which also contained Mississippi Queen); I found it as an 8-track for 10-cents at a flea market in 1985! & then had to go hunting second hand stores for more Mountain!
Mike from Stevenson Ranch, Cawhat about drive my car by the beatles rockin cowbell in that song
Snuckles from San Francisco, CaDude. All yall sre talkin bout the best cowbell songs and no one mentioned WORKING FOR THE WEEKEND!!! OMG! Loverboy! Cmon people.
Steven from Gibsonia , PaThis sounds like Lenny Kravitz singing
S.d. from Denver, CoCowbell classics? Yes, this one definitely qualifies. But the best? #1: Honky Tonk Woman; #2: Sweet City Woman; #3: Hazy Shade of Winter; Hon. Mention: Don't Fear the Reaper (for inspiring one of the all-time great SNL sketches and launching the most popular non-sequitur phrase of the last decade)
Clubber Lange from Ocean Gate, NjOne of the best Rock Band/ Guitar Hero songs....
Bert from Pueblo, Nmone of the best one-hit wonders ever.
Sheeberson from Wrightsville Beach, Nconly 3 comments? geez... i thought this song was poular... leslie west was god, my hero for being a larger mammal and still BEASTING on the guitar (not to mention adding some pretty great vocals... i think he sang, at least...).
Paul from Liverpool, EnglandThis is indeed one of the greatest cowbell songs of all-time, along with 'Never in my Life'. Go to Stonerrock.com and search for 'Cowbells' in the classic albums section for an amazing list compiled by regular contributors.
Justin from Albany, NyThis song rocks so much! Its to bad mountain is so unknown nowadays they made some great music
Brandon from Peoria, IlI rate this the #1 greatest Cowbell Song...#2 is Don't Fear (the Reaper) and #3 is Low Rider.