ReasonTo Love Memphis #37: The Songs About Us

Posted by Holly Whitfield | June 10th 2010 182 13

We’re so vain, but it’s only because we know the songs are about us.

Our fair city gets name-dropped in more songs than any other city on earth. The Rock’n’Soul museum keeps a running list of all of the songs that mention Memphis in the lyrics. Currently, the count is at 969.

The artists on the list are varied – everyone from Jerry Lee Lewis and Bob Dylan to Project Pat and Ani Difranco is represented. A lot of the artists are locals, both past and present.

Every time I hear a song that mentions Memphis, I get a dorky little swell of civic pride, especially when the song is awesome. No offense to Marc Cohn, but “Walking in Memphis” doesn’t make me feel nearly as at home as Spoon’s “Finer Feelings” or Chuck Berry’s “Memphis, Tennessee”.

What are your favorite songs that mention Memphis?

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Melody says:

    Very cool. Just suggested a song that wasn’t on the list before – so now they have 970 :]

  2. marjorie says:

    I wonder why Bob Seger says at the beginning of “Trying to Live My Life Without You” that it is an old Memphis song? It does not even mention Memphis. I’m not sure who wrote it, maybe that’s the key :)

    I like The Letter by the Box Tops. I do like Marc Cohen’s song, and of course, anything by Elvis!!

  3. Jeremy says:

    I’ve always thought that “Graceland” by Paul Simon was a cool little number.

    “The Mississippi Delta was shining
    Like a National guitar,
    I am following the river
    Down the highway
    Through the cradle of the civil war,

    I’m going to Graceland
    In Memphis Tennessee
    I’m going to Graceland…”

  4. Andrea Olson says:

    I like Pam Tillis’s Maybe it was Memphis, and Grace Askew’s Under Memphis Skies.

  5. Joey D. says:

    Can’t believe they don’t have Memphis Girls by John Paul Keith and the One Four Fives listed! I have e-mailed them about that (and a couple others).

  6. Victoria says:

    I collect Memphis songs: songs about Memphis, songs mentioning Memphis, and great songs from Memphis, whether they mention it or not (such as “I Can’t Stand the Rain”).

    My favorites: John Hiatt’s “Memphis in the Meantime,” Dan Penn’s “Memphis Women and Fried Chicken,” the various versions of “Talk Memphis,” “The Memphis Blues,” and “Memphis, Tennessee” (Doctor John has a nice version of the latter), and then some lesser known songs:

    Just confining myself to songs called “Memphis,” I especially like recordings by Adlin & Appleford, Andi Hoffman, Arrica Rose, Charlie Wood, Elaine Townsend, Jack Hardy, Taxi Chain, and 8Ball & MJG. I also like “Shufflin’ to Memphis,” by the Bad Livers (a nice string band sound) and the Black River Band’s “Goodbye Memphis,” which is about how maybe America needs a city that still remembers the ideals of personal freedom represented by Elvis and social justice represented by Dr. King. Not all of them are good songs, but they speak to me.

    A word also for Beale Street songs, especially “Beale Street Blues” (Louis Armstrong version), Jed Davenport’s “Beale Street Breakdown,” and Eric Bibb’s “New Beale Street Blues,” a tribute to the jug bands of the 20s and 30s.

    And, speaking of jug bands, I love to listen to the Memphis Jug Band’s version of “Going Back to Memphis,” which has a verse shared by Jimmie Rodgers’ “Memphis Yodel.” There are many different songs called “Going Back to Memphis,” something that listening to Memphis songs makes me want to do, so that I can spend my life “Under Memphis Skies”–a lovely song by Grace Askew.

  7. Zach says:

    I’m not sure, but I know it’s definitely not Walking in Memphis.

  8. Peter C says:

    “I met a gin-soaked bar room queen in ________”

  9. Tim says:

    Can’t believe they left off “Sequestered in Memphis” by The Hold Steady. Great band, they’ll be at the Hi-Tone in July. Check them out.

  10. Keith says:

    “London give you accent
    L.A. give you gold
    New York give you attitude
    But Memphis … gives you *SOUL*.”

    –Rob Jungklas, Memphis Thing

  11. katie says:

    haha kerry my friends and i have that hypothesis too lol

  12. Bob says:

    Travelin Band – CCR

  13. A says:

    This isn’t an insult at Memphis or anyone who writes the blog but new york probably has more songs about…Paris, too.

  14. MadMolecule says:

    Interesting that there are a lot of songs about Elvis on that list, but only one song BY Elvis (“Guitar Man”).

  15. Melody says:

    Until New York or Paris makes a legitimate, comprehensive list… Memphis Rules :)

  16. Carl Helton says:

    There is a great song on Bon Jovi’s “100,000,000 Fans Can’t Be Wrong” box set called “Memphis Lives In Me” which Davis Bryan wrote for the musical MEMPHIS. Really think this song catches the Memphis Vibe.

  17. […] Memphis has been mentioned in more songs than any other city, the song that best describes my feelings about living here is about […]

  18. Lauren Rae says:

    I think “Walking In Memphis” is an atrocity. I think it was the theme for my senior prom. The SONG was the theme. Needless to say, I did not attend.

  19. Adlin & Appleford says:

    A shoutout to Victoria (two years late) for enjoying our song "Memphis." 

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