The Dark End of the Street

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"Dark End of the Street" redirects here. For other uses, see The Dark End of the Street (disambiguation).
"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]

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 there have been many cover versions of the song, and the following is just a partial list:

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


  1. ^ Guralnick, Peter (2002).
  2. ^ Gordon, Robert (2001).
  3. ^ Hoskyns, Barney (1998).
  4. ^ Stuart Bailie (July 6, 2008). "Playlist". BBC. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  5. ^ Gregg Allman - Searching for Simplicity. AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  6. ^ "Prince Buster - Dark End Of The Street". YouTube. 2010-10-13. Retrieved 2016-09-30. 
  7. ^ Eugene Chadbourne. "The Cowboy & the Lady - Lee Hazlewood,Ann-Margret | Songs, Reviews, Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-09-30.