When I first heard the title, Roll Around Heaven, I thought to myself “what the heck does that even mean?” But in immersing myself in Jessica Maxwell's sumptuous memoir, I quickly learned that it is an expression her mother used to use.
""She'd be rolling out dough for chicken-and-dumplings, trying, as always, to make her dumplings turn out as good as her mother's--a near impossible mission that would vex my mother mercilessly if she let it. ""You can either roll around heaven or roll around hell,"" she'd say with a laugh, ""the choice is yours honey.""
It turns out this folksy saying is also featured in a beautiful song written in 1949 called ""Lucky Old Sun."" The line goes like this: “But that lucky old sun has nothin' to do, but roll around heaven all day.” The song ""Lucky Old Sun"" has been covered by some of the most incredible performers of all time. With Jessica's words in my head, I went a searching on YouTube and found versions by everyone from Louis Armstrong to Johnny Cash. There is even a version of Bob Dylan and Tom Petty singing the song together. But, far and wide, the version I love most so far is Aretha Franklin’s. When you listen to Aretha Franklin sing this song, you will get a feel for the meaning of the title, and a sense of the bliss, angst, and transformation that Maxwell expresses in her “all-true, accidental, spiritual adventure” Roll Around Heaven.

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