The Dark End of the Street
|"The Dark End of the Street"|
|Single by James Carr|
|from the album You Got My Mind Messed Up|
History and original recording
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, 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.” 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.
Soul artist James Carr, as promised, first recorded the song in late 1966, and it became his trademark song, reaching number 10 on Billboard Magazine's Black Singles Chart, and crossing over to number 77 on the Pop chart.
(Six months later fellow soul singer Percy Sledge included his version of the song on his 1967 album "The Percy Sledge Way," but it did not chart as high, as it had a similar sound to Carr's unmistakable vocals.)
In the years since Carr's original version there have been many cover versions of the song, and the following is just a partial list: