Tuesday, June 7, 2011: MEMPHIS

The music of Memphis is a fascinating study.  The music is so diverse – so many fusions of styles.  Rock n’ roll, Blues, Rockabilly and Soul all make up the Memphis sound.  Currently there is a Tony award winning musical “Memphis” playing in New York and touring the country.  Another musical “Million Dollar Quartet” is making its rounds as a national tour.

It’s said that there are more songs written about Memphis than any other city in the world – songs like Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” or Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee head the list.

Walking along Beale Street is like walking through the heartland of the Blues.  Howling Wolf was a big man of stature and a big man of Blues – songs like “Smokestack Lightening” and Moanin’ at Midnight” were trademark Wolf songs.

The two major record labels from Memphis were Stax Records and Sun Records.  Stax was the Soul music of Isaac Hayes (Soul Man), Otis Redding (Ain’t No Sunshine), Staple Singers (Respect Yourself), Wilson Pickett (In the Midnight Hour) Booker T and the MG’s (Green Onions).  Sun Records and Rockabilly was the sound of the four great singers referred to as the Million Dollar Quartet: Elvis, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis and Carl Perkins.

A list of hit songs from the Million Dollar Quartet is stellar.  The Johnny Cash songs: Folsom Prison Blues, I Walk the Line, Ring of Fire, Get Rhythm, Man in Black, A Boy Named Sue, Jackson.  Carl Perkins songs include: Blue Suede Shoes, Gone Gone Gone.  The rockin’ Jerry Lee Lewis songs: Great Balls of Fire and Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On.  The Elvis classics: Don’t Be Cruel, Heartbreak Hotel, Love Me Tender, Hound Dog, All Shook Up, Jailhouse Rock, Are You Lonesome Tonight, Can’t Help Fallin’ In Love, Return to Sender.

Memphis – the birthplace of Rock n’ Roll and the home of the Blues.

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