The Dark End of the Street

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"The Dark End of the Street"
James Carr The Dark End of the Street.jpg
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]

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[citation needed].


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]

Cover Versions[edit]

In the years since Carr's original version many artists have recorded versions of the song. The following is a partial list:

Year released Artist Album / EP / Single Notes
1967 Percy Sledge The Percy Sledge Way [5]
1967 Prince Buster "Dark End Of The Street / Love Oh Love" single [6]
1968 Porter Wagoner and Dolly Parton Just the Two of Us
1968 Archie Campbell / Lorene Mann Tell It Like It Is [7]
1969 Lee Hazlewood / Ann-Margret The Cowboy & The Lady [8]
1969 The Flying Burrito Brothers The Gilded Palace of Sin
1969 Pat Kelly Pat Kelly Sings [9]
1970 Aretha Franklin This Girl's in Love with You
1972 Ry Cooder Boomer's Story
1974 Linda Ronstadt Heart Like a Wheel
1975 Richard and Linda Thompson Pour Down Like Silver
1976 Dorothy Moore Misty Blue [10]
1977 Ry Cooder Show Time [11]
1982 Moving Hearts Dark End of the Street
1989 Deacon Blue "Love and Regret" single
1989 Don Dixon E E E [12]
1991 The cast of The Commitments Original soundtrack
1992 Chuck Brown and Eva Cassidy The Other Side
1993 Gary Stewart I'm a Texan [13]
1994 Afghan Whigs The B-Sides / The Conversation EP
1994 Diamanda Galás and John Paul Jones The Sporting Life
1997 Gregg Allman Searching for Simplicity [14]
1997 Peter Green Splinter Group Peter Green Splinter Group
2004 Elvis Costello and The Imposters The Delivery Man
2005 Frank Black Honeycomb
2008 Cat Power Dark End of the Street EP
2010 Black Friday Hard Times [15]
2011 June Tabor and Oysterband Ragged Kingdom
2015 Marching Church This World Is Not Enough [16]
2016 The Hidden Cameras Home on Native Land


  1. ^ Guralnick, Peter (2002).
  2. ^ Gordon, Robert (2001).
  3. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (1998).
  4. ^ Bailie, Stuart (July 6, 2008). "Playlist". Retrieved July 29, 2008. 
  5. ^ Deming, Mark. "Percy Sledge - The Percy Sledge Way". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  6. ^ "Prince Buster - "Dark End Of The Street"". Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Archie Campbell / Lorene Mann - Tell It Like It Is". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  8. ^ Chadbourne, Eugene. "Lee Hazlewood / Ann-Margret - The Cowboy & The Lady". Retrieved September 30, 2016. 
  9. ^ "Pat Kelly - Pat Kelly Sings". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  10. ^ Carpenter, Bill. "Dorothy Moore - Misty Blue". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  11. ^ "Ry Cooder - Show Time". Retrieved April 22, 2017. 
  12. ^ "Don Dixon - E E E". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  13. ^ McCall, Michael. "Gary Stewart - I'm a Texan". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  14. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Gregg Allman - Searching for Simplicity". Retrieved November 25, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Black Friday - Hard Times". Retrieved March 19, 2017. 
  16. ^ Phares, Heather. "Marching Church - This World Is Not Enough". Retrieved March 19, 2017.