Today’s special is Memphis Soul Stew
We sell so much of this, people wonder what we put in it
We gonna tell you right now
Give me about a half a teacup of bass
Now I need a pound of fatback drums
Now give me four Tablespoons of boiling Memphis guitars
This goin’ taste alright
Today, we are dishing up a little “Memphis Soul Stew” just like King Curtis called for! We perused the world-wide web, and found hundreds upon hundreds of songs that shout out to our hometown of Memphis, TN! (Don’t even get us started on all the songs that were recorded here, because that would take all year.) We narrowed down the multitudes to over 65 of our favorite tunes about our beloved Bluff City and assembled them to create Your Ultimate Memphis, TN, Playlist. So roll down the windows, let the Southern air bellow in, and jam out to these Memphis-inspired tunes. Let’s hit some of the highlights.
Sure, Tennessee on the whole is a mecca for music lovers, but Memphis offers something entirely unique. Known for the blues and soul, even Bob Dylan found himself “Stuck Inside of Mobile With the Memphis Blues Again.” For those looking to expand their horizons beyond the bluegrass of East Tennessee and the country music of Nashville, Memphis is the destination, like John Hiatt sings in “Memphis In The Meantime.”
Sure I like country music
I like mandolins
But right now I need a telecaster
Through a vibro-lux turned up to ten
Lets go to Memphis in the meantime baby
Memphis in the meantime girl
Beyond just the music and the scene, there are songs about Memphis that wrestle with tough issues, like Old Crow Medicine Show’s “Motel in Memphis” reflecting on the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Were you there when the man from Atlanta was murdered in Memphis?
Did you see him layin’ at the Lorraine Motel?
Did you hear them say that the CIA is witness
To the murder of a man at a motel in Memphis?
Motel in Memphis
Motel in Memphis
Run and tell somebody there’s blood on the riverside
Oh muddy water, rolling to Memphis
If you were there, you’d swear it was more than a man who died
For decades, folks have managed to get themselves in trouble down on good ol’ Beale Street, and many a song has referenced this phenomenon. Booker T. Jones loves “heading for the darkest club down on Beale Street, playing that funky music, drinking that funky gin,” and he is clearly not alone. Eartha Kitt laments all the poor behavior in “Beale Street Blues.”
If Beale Street could talk, if Beale Street could talk,
Married men would have to take their beds and walk,
Except one or two who never drink booze,
And the blind man on the corner singing “Beale Street Blues!”
According to these tracks, there is something special about Memphis women. From Mick Jagger reminiscing in “Honky Tonk Women” about meeting “a gin-soaked, bar-room queen in Memphis,” to the Grateful Dead insisting, “when I take a walk down there, all the women sure look good,” musicians can’t get over Bluff City babes. Just take Hank Jr.’s word for it…
She’s the Memphis belle the girl’s name is Marie
The hottest thing since Elvis from Memphis, Tennessee
There’s been dollars dropped down the jukebox well
Just watch her dance woo the Memphis belle
She’s the Memphis belle she’s hot as hell
Everyone wants her any man can tell
When she walks in the room she ain’t no plain Jane
Compare her to a million dollars you won’t get no change
We took a couple of artistic liberties, as we’re sure when Al Green croons “Take Me To The River,” he must be referencing the mighty Mississippi, and we’re positive that the “Soul Man” that Sam & Dave are chanting about must be a Memphian. And Memphis native, Drew Holcomb, may not have mentioned the Bluff City by name, but we can hear it in his lyrics.
But no matter how far these songs take me
If my dreams come true, if the heart aches break me
No matter where I make my bed
I long for you.
I was born here and raised here and I’ll make my grave here
It’s home, Tennessee
We’ll end on the classic Jimmie Rodgers, who nails how we feel better than just about anyone else in his “Memphis Yodel.”
I love you, Memphis
You know I love, love you so
Lord, I love you, Memphis
Tennessee, I love you so
And I’d rather be here
Than any other place I know
Check out the whole playlist below!
Did we miss one of your favorites? Shoot us an email at martha.d[email protected], and we will add it to the playlist!
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