The Dark End of the Street
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|"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 Gold Star Studio in Los Angeles 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 Billboard Hot 100.
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.
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 some people believe was influenced by Penn and Moman's song.
In the years since Carr's original version, many artists have recorded versions of the song. The following are the most notable releases:
- 1967 – Prince Buster, single
- 1967 – Percy Sledge, released on The Percy Sledge Way
- 1968 – Joe Tex, released on Soul Country
- 1968 – Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, released on Just the Two of Us
- 1969 – Flying Burrito Brothers, released on The Gilded Palace of Sin
- 1969 – Lee Hazlewood, Ann-Margret, released on The Cowboy and the Lady
- 1970 – Aretha Franklin, released on This Girl's in Love with You
- 1972 – Lee Moses, single
- 1972 – Ry Cooder, released on Boomer's Story
- 1974 – Linda Ronstadt, released on Heart Like a Wheel
- 1976 – Richard & Linda Thompson, released on (guitar, vocal)
- 1982 – Moving Hearts, released on Dark End of the Street
- 1989 – Deacon Blue, a live version B-side of their "Love and Regret" single
- 1989 – Don Dixon, EEE
- 1991 – The Commitments, released on "The Commitments Soundtrack"
- 1993 – Gary Stewart, released on I'm a Texan
- 1994 – Diamanda Galás and John Paul Jones, released on The Sporting Life
- 1997 – Gregg Allman, released on Searching for Simplicity
- 1996 – Kevin Mahogany, released on Kevin Mahogany
- 1999 – Elvis Costello, released on Kojak Variety (2004 bonus disc version)
- 2004 – Troy Cassar-Daley, released on Borrowed & Blue
- 2005 – Frank Black, released on Honeycomb
- 2008 – Eels, released on Useless Trinkets: B-Sides, Soundtracks, Rarities and Unreleased 1996–2006
- 2008 – Cat Power, released on Matador Records as part of the Dark End of the Street EP
- 2016 – The Hidden Cameras, released on Outside Music as part of Home On Native Land
- 2016 – Jimmy Barnes feat Dan Penn, released on Soul Searchin'
- 2019 – June Tabor & Oyster Band released on Fire & Fleet
- 2021 – Dave Gahan / Soulsavers, single
- Guralnick, Peter (2002).
- Gordon, Robert (2001).
- Hoskyns, Barney (1998).
- Bailie, Stuart (July 6, 2008). "Playlist". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved July 29, 2008.
- "Original versions of The Dark End of the Street by Deacon Blue | SecondHandSongs". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 10 February 2020.
- "Kevin Mahogany: Discography – Kevin Mahogany". Retrieved 2020-10-30.
- "Original versions of The Dark End of the Street by Elvis Costello | SecondHandSongs". Secondhandsongs.com. Retrieved 10 February 2020.