Reason to Love Memphis #41: Midtown’s Living Room
The Lamplighter Lounge is Midtown’s living room. So much so that last night, several bedheadded young men came in and ordered bottles of Pabst in their pajamas.
It’s the definition of a dive bar, meaning that drinking at the Lamplighter is like drinking in your grandma’s basement. There’s no liquor at the Lamplighter, only cheap beer. There’s food, too – greasy burgers, legendary patty melts, the occasional vat of chili (depending on who’s working that night). And don’t even think about trying to pay with a credit card.
Though the legendary Miss Shirley isn’t behind the counter very often (due to her health), her legacy is still all over the bar. She didn’t tolerate foolishness, and once, she threw legendary photographer William Eggleston out of the bar.
The weeknight and weekend crowd is about the same – a mix of musicians, Midtowners and the middle-aged, all looking for a quiet drink. No one is a big deal (including the people that are). There is no trivia night at the Lamplighter. They’ll probably never do karaoke. You can’t pick up a wireless signal there. What they do have is a pool table, a small TV with grainy reception that constantly plays sports, and the greatest jukebox in town.
This is the sort of place where every song that plays on the ancient, cranky jukebox is the perfect song. Don’t expect any hipster favorites – just lots of un-ironic country standards, classic ballads and the occasional Meatloaf track.
Cat Power’s video for “Lived in Bars” (which was filmed at the Lamplighter), gets it totally right, both thematically and visually:
1702 Madison Ave
Memphis, TN 38104-6401