The Dark End of the Street

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"Dark End of the Street" redirects here. For the Cat Power album, see Dark End of the Street (album).
"The Dark End of the Street"
Single by James Carr
from the album You Got My Mind Messed Up
Released 1967 (1967)
Recorded Royal Studios
Genre Soul
Label Goldwax

"The Dark End of the Street" is a 1967 soul song written by songwriters Dan Penn and Chips Moman and first recorded by James Carr.

History and original recording[edit]

The song was co-written by Penn, a professional songwriter and producer, and Moman, a former session guitarist at Phil Spector's Gold Star Studio, and also the owner of American Sound Studio in Memphis, Tennessee. The song itself was ultimately recorded across town at Royal Studios, home of HI Records.

In the summer of 1966, while a DJ convention was being held in Memphis, Penn and Moman were cheating while playing cards with Florida DJ Don Schroeder,[1] and decided to write the song while on a break. Penn said of the song “We were always wanting to come up with the best cheatin’ song. Ever.”[2] The duo went to the hotel room of Quinton Claunch, another Muscle Shoals alumnus, and founder of Hi Records, to write. Claunch told them, "Boys, you can use my room on one condition, which is that you give me that song for James Carr. They said I had a deal, and they kept their word.” The song, lyrics and all, was written in about thirty minutes.[3]

The song is the lament from an adulterer to his illicit lover, told from the adulterer's point of view. According to the lyrics, they continue their sins, "hiding in shadows where [they] don't belong" because their "love keeps coming on strong." At the climax of the song, the narrator fears "they're gonna find us some day."

The song was originally recorded by soul artist James Carr. The song became his most popular, reaching number 10 on Billboard Magazine's Black Singles Chart, and crossing over to number 77 on the Pop chart.


Van Morrison's song Bright Side of the Road includes the lyrics "From the dark end of the street, to the bright side of the road" which many believe was influenced by Penn's song.[4]


  1. ^ Guralnick, Peter (2002).
  2. ^ Gordon, Robert (2001).
  3. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (1998).
  4. ^ Stuart Bailie (July 6, 2008). "Playlist". BBC. Retrieved 2008-07-29.