Memphis, Tennessee (song)
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|Single by Chuck Berry|
|A-side||"Back in the U.S.A."|
|Format||7" single B-side|
|Genre||Rhythm and blues, rock and roll|
|Chuck Berry singles chronology|
"Memphis, Tennessee" is a song by Chuck Berry. It is sometimes shortened to "Memphis". In the UK, the song charted at #6 in 1963, at the same time Decca Records issued a cover version in the UK by Dave Berry and the Cruisers, which also became a UK Top 20 hit single. "Memphis, Tennessee" was most successfully covered by Johnny Rivers whose version of the song was a #2 US hit in 1964.
In the song the narrator is speaking to a long-distance operator, trying to find out the number of a girl named Marie, who lives in Memphis, Tennessee "on the southside, high upon a ridge, just a half a mile from the Mississippi bridge." The narrator offers little information to the operator at first, only that he misses Marie and that they were separated by Marie's mother. The final verse reveals that Marie is, in fact, the narrator's six-year-old daughter; her mother, presumably the narrator's ex-wife, left their home and took Marie with her.
Chuck Berry later composed a sequel, "Little Marie", which appeared in 1964 as a single and on the album St. Louis to Liverpool.
The Beatles versions
|Song by The Beatles from the album Live at the BBC and On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2|
|Released||30 November 1994 (Live at the BBC)
11 November 2013 (On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2)
|Recorded||30 July 1963 (Live at the BBC)
5 October 1963 (On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2)
|Length||2:16 (Live at the BBC)
2:15 (On Air - Live at the BBC Volume 2)
The Beatles recorded five versions of "Memphis, Tennessee" for BBC radio. One version that was recorded on 30 July 1963 for the Pop Go The Beatles radio show was included on Live at the BBC in 1994. Another version that was recorded a few months later on 5 October 1963 for the Saturday Club radio show was included on On Air – Live at the BBC Volume 2 in 2013.
- John Lennon - vocals, rhythm guitar
- Paul McCartney - bass
- George Harrison - lead guitar
- Ringo Starr - drums
Johnny Rivers version
|Single by Johnny Rivers|
|from the album At the Whisky à Go Go|
|B-side||"It Wouldn't Happen with Me"|
|Format||7" single A-side|
|Johnny Rivers singles chronology|
In 1964 singer Johnny Rivers recorded another version of the tune (which he, following Mack, called "Memphis"), copying Mack's pacing and some of his instrumental improvisations, and reinstating the vocal line from Berry's original. That version hit #2 on Billboard's Pop chart (behind "I Get Around" by the Beach Boys).
The song has been covered by many artists, including The Who (as The High Numbers), Hasil Adkins, Paul Anka, Count Basie, Dave Berry, John Cale, Lado Leskovar, Riblja Čorba, Don Covay, The Dave Clark Five, Bo Diddley, Faces, Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, Fotheringay, Al Green, The Hollies, Jan and Dean, Tom Jones, Sammy Kershaw, Fred Knoblock, Jerry Lee Lewis, Lonnie Mack, Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions (a predecessor of Grateful Dead) Mrs. Miller, Roy Orbison, Buck Owens, Elvis Presley, Johnny Rivers, The Rolling Stones, Del Shannon, Silicon Teens, Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders, The Statler Brothers, Izzy Stradlin, Rod Stewart, Gene Summers, George Thorogood, Ernest Tubb, Conway Twitty, The Ventures, Zippy Kid, Danny and the Fat Boys (Danny Gatton), Hank Williams Jr., Faron Young and most recently Toby Keith on the Clancy's Tavern (Deluxe Edition) album and Irish singer-songwriter Eleanor McEvoy in her album "Stuff".
In 1963, guitarist Lonnie Mack recorded a fast-paced, full-length instrumental improvisation inspired by Berry's melody, and named the tune "Memphis". Mack's instrumental went to #5 on Billboard's Pop chart and #4 on Billboard's R&B chart. Mack's version does list Chuck Berry as being the author of the song.
After that, Berry's own live performances of the tune resembled the Mack and Rivers versions as much as his own original recording. In the years following, many other artists (see names above) covered the tune, and it became one of Berry's most commercially successful compositions.
- Chart Stats – Chuck Berry – Let It Rock/Memphis Tennessee
- Chart Stats – Dave Berry And The Cruisers – Memphis Tennessee
- "Memphis, Tennessee | The Beatles Bible". www.beatlesbible.com. Retrieved 2016-08-28.
- "Show 21 – Forty Miles of Bad Road: Some of the best from rock 'n' roll's dark ages. [Part 2]". Digital.library.unt.edu. 2011-08-05. Retrieved 2011-08-21.
- Grateful Dead Family Discography: Mother McCree's Uptown Jug Champions
- ‘’25 Rockin’ Instrumentals’’, Varese Vintage CD, 2003