Walking in Memphis

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"Walking in Memphis"
Single by Marc Cohn
from the album Marc Cohn
Released 1991
Format 7" single, CD maxi
Recorded 1990
Genre Soft rock[1]
Length 4:18
Label Atlantic
Writer(s) Marc Cohn
Producer(s) Marc Cohn, Ben Wisch
Marc Cohn singles chronology
"Walking in Memphis"
(1991)
"Silver Thunderbird"
(1991)

"Walking in Memphis" is a song written by American singer-songwriter Marc Cohn. The song became Cohn's biggest hit, peaking at number 13 on the Billboard Hot 100 and, after being re-released in autumn 1991, reached number 22 on the UK chart. The song has had several cover versions over the years. In 1995, Cher released a cover of the song that peaked at number 11 on the UK Singles Chart. The 2003 version by American country music group Lonestar, was also a hit on the Billboard Hot 100 in the US.

Marc Cohn version[edit]

Background[edit]

"Walking in Memphis" was taken from Marc Cohn's self-titled 1991 album. The popularity of this song helped Cohn win the Grammy for Best New Artist in 1992. Cohn said of the song, "It's 100 percent autobiographical. The moment I wrote it, I had no idea I was writing a hit, but I knew I was writing something that deeply defined so many facets of me — my conflicting feelings about religion, about my own state, my humor about it, my acceptance about everybody in terms of what they believe. … It's not a religious thing for me, it's just deeply moving. And I guess that's all in that line" - i.e. "Tell me are you a Christian, child" - "It's so funny — people often think that I'm Christian or born-again, from not only that song, but others. In a way, I like that. There's nothing clear about what I'm writing, in terms of spirituality. But to me, that line could have only been written by a Jew. It's such a Jewish line, and I love that."[2] Cohn later explained the imagery: "It's a pretty literal transcription of a visit I made there in 1986. I went to Graceland, I heard Al Green preach the gospel, I saw W. C. Handy's statue. But the song is about more than just a place, it's about a kind of spiritual awakening, one of those trips where you're different when you leave. The main part of the trip is the last verse - a lady named Muriel." Cohn said when he was 32, he met Muriel Wilkins, a little-known club singer and pianist, at a restaurant an hour outside town. "I talked to her for an hour and then she invited me up to sing. She ended up changing my life. She had an incredible effect on me, not only as a musician, but as a person. She saw things in me and shared things with me that I don't normally talk about, mostly revolving around my parents, who died when I was pretty young." Cohn credited Wilkins as the inspiration to write "Walking in Memphis" and the other songs that appear on Marc Cohn, his debut album. Cohn addressed the mention of Elvis Presley and expressed that he almost regrets mentioning Presley in the song. "To me, the song is so minimally about him, but I worry that it gets cast off as another Elvis tribute. It's a testament to the power of his name, even if you just mention it in one verse, the song becomes about him because people focus on it."[3]

Critical reception[edit]

Mary Chang of “Music in Notes” said of the song, ”‘Walking in Memphis’ by Cleveland-born singer/songwriter Marc Cohn shows how piano can be used in a pop song as an emphatic declaration of feeling… I’m not a religious person by any means, but there is something so stirring so powerful in the words “She said, ‘Tell me are you a Christian, child?’ / and I said, ‘Ma’am, I am tonight!’”, you want to get up out of your chair and shout.”[4] Michael Waterman said of Cohn and his “one-hit wonder song” on TopOneHitWonders.com, “We still like ‘Walking in Memphis’ for its well-placed references to Elvis and Al Green. For that alone we give it bonus points on the one-hit-ometer.”[5]

Track listings and formats[edit]

7" single
  1. "Walking in Memphis" — 4:18
  2. "Dig Down Deep" — 5:08
7" single
  1. "Walking in Memphis" — 4:18
  2. "Silver Thunderbird" (live) — 5:26
CD maxi
  1. "Walking in Memphis" — 4:18
  2. "Dig Down Deep" — 5:08
  3. "Saving the Best for Last" — 5:31

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1991–1992) Peak
position
Australian ARIA Singles Chart[6] 11
Dutch Mega Top 100[6] 56
French SNEP Singles Chart[6] 45
German Singles Chart[7] 25
Irish Singles Chart[8] 7
UK Singles Chart[9] 22
US Billboard Hot 100[10] 13
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[11] 12
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[12] 74
US Mainstream Rock Tracks (Billboard)[13] 7

Cher version[edit]

"Walking in Memphis"
Single by Cher
from the album It's a Man's World
Released October 13, 1995
Recorded 1995
Genre Pop rock
Length 3:59
Label WEA
Writer(s) Marc Cohn
Producer(s) Christopher Neil
Cher singles chronology
"Love Can Build a Bridge"
(1995)
"Walking in Memphis"
(1995)
"One by One"
(1996)
Audio sample
file info · help

Background[edit]

"Walking in Memphis" was remade by Cher for her twenty-second studio album It's a Man's World from which it was released as the lead single in Europe and the UK on October 16, 1995. The b&w music video prepared to promote the track intercut footage of Cher singing - seated in the doorway of a motor coach - with footage of an Elvis Presley-like figure - played by Cher - mostly seen walking down the streets of Memphis. The lyrics as sung by Cher reverse the gender of Muriel the pianist, the pianist being renamed Gabriel. Cher - wearing a blonde wig and dark outfit as on the single's picture sleeve - premiered "Walking in Memphis" on the TOTP broadcast of October 19, 1995: her version then debuted at #11 on the UK chart for the week ending October 28, 1995, and after being reprised on the TOTP broadcast of October 26, 1995 - on which Cher sang "Walking in Memphis" groomed as Elvis Presley - her single essentially maintained its UK chart popularity with a #12 ranking dated November 4, 1995.

Cher's "Walking in Memphis" subsequently made a rapid UK chart descent dropping out of the Top 100 after a #68 ranking dated December 9, 1995 to return to the UK Top 100 charts dated December 20, 1995 (#97) and January 6, 1996 (#100), the single evidently boosted by Cher's performance of the song on ITV's The Caballe Family Christmas special broadcast Christmas Eve 1995. It would be Cher's followup single to "Walking in Memphis": "One by One", which would provide the singer with her most significant UK hit off It's a Man's World, as "One by One" spent two weeks at #7 in January 1996 with a four-week Top Ten tenure.

"Walking in Memphis" was performed by Cher in some shows in Europe, and in her tours since the Do You Believe? Tour.

Critical reception[edit]

Allmusic called this cover rousing.[14] Jim Farber stated that it "must be heard to be believed."[15]

In popular culture[edit]

Live performances[edit]

Cher performed the song on the following concert tours:

Track listings and formats[edit]

These are the formats and track listings of all single releases of "Walking in Memphis".

UK CD Maxi-Single Pt 1 (WEA 021 CD1)[16][17]

  1. "Walking in Memphis"
  2. "Angels Running"
  3. "Walking in Memphis" (Shut Up & Dance Instrumental)

UK CD Maxi-Single Pt 2 (WEA 021 CD2)[17][18]

  1. "Walking In Memphis" (Shut Up & Dance Vocal)
  2. "Walking In Memphis" (Shut Up & Dance Instrumental)
  3. "Walking In Memphis" (Rated P.G. Mix)
  4. "Walking In Memphis" (Baby Doc Mix)

UK 2 x 12" Vinyl (0630-13100-0)[17][19]

Same tracklist of the UK CD Maxi-Single Pt 2.[17]

UK 12" Vinyl (WEA032T)[17][20]

  • A1. "One By One" (Junior's Club Vocal)
  • B1. "Walking In Memphis" (Shut Up And Dance Vocal Mix)
  • B2. "Walking In Memphis" (Baby Doc Mix)

US 12" Vinyl Promo (PRO-A-8428)[17][21]

  • A1. "One By One" (Junior's Pride Mix)
  • A2. "One By One" (Bonus Beats)
  • A3. "One By One" (Piano Dub)
  • B1. "Walking In Memphis" (Shut Up And Dance Mix)
  • B2. "Walking In Memphis" (Rated PG Mix)

Chart performance[edit]

Chart (1995–1996)[22] Peak
position
Australian Singles Chart 65
Austrian Singles Chart 17
Canadian Singles Chart 60
Canadian Adult Contemporary Chart[23] 49
Danish Singles Chart 19
Dutch Singles Chart 44
European Singles Chart 36
German Singles Chart 63
Scottish Singles Chart[24] 7
Swedish Singles Chart 13
Turkish (Airplay) Singles Chart 2
UK Singles Chart[25] 11
US Billboard Hot 100[26] 11

Lonestar version[edit]

"Walking in Memphis"
Single by Lonestar
from the album From There to Here: Greatest Hits
Released August 11, 2003
Recorded 2003
Genre Country
Length 3:50
Label BNA
Writer(s) Marc Cohn
Producer(s) Dann Huff
Lonestar singles chronology
"My Front Porch Looking In"
(2003)
"Walking in Memphis"
(2003)
"Let's Be Us Again"
(2004)

Background[edit]

American country music band Lonestar which reached #8 on the Hot Country Songs chart and #61 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2003 with a remake of "Walking in Memphis" released as a single off the Lonestar album From There to Here: Greatest Hits. This version was featured on Smallville Season 3, Episode 5 "Perry" when Perry White returns to Metropolis.

Lonestar lead vocalist Richie McDonald would recall that during the two years of the band's inaugural phase as a bar band "Walking in Memphis" was a staple of their set list from the start: "after we got our record deal we stopped doing [any] cover songs but...a few years later [we were] in Memphis Tennessee getting ready to do a benefit for St Judes down on Beale Street" - i.e. St. Jude Children's Research Hospital - "[and] we thought this would be a good time to do 'Walking in Memphis' because we were right there on Beale...One of the label guys was there [and] said y'all should record that. We started doing it in our live shows and it just became something we wanted to put out."[27]

Music video[edit]

The music video was directed by Milton Lage and premiered in late 2003.

Chart performance[edit]

"Walking in Memphis" debuted at number fifty-nine on the U.S. Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks for the week of August 16, 2003.

Chart (2003) Peak
position
US Hot Country Songs (Billboard)[28] 8
US Billboard Hot 100[29] 61

Other versions[edit]

"Walking in Memphis" became a #5 hit in Sweden in December 2009 via a remake by Calle Kristiansson the runner-up finalist in Idol 2009: Kristiansson had performed the song in the "Jury's Choice" episode broadcast 4 December 2009, being the penultimate episode of Idol 2009. Kristiansson's version of "Walking in Memphis" was included on his self-titled album issued in January 2010.

The song has also been recorded by Paul Anka (album Classics - My Way/ 2007), Skott Freedman (album Some Company/ 2003), Stefan Gwildis (de) (as "Gestern war gestern" German - album Wünscht du wärst hier/ 2009), Tony Hadley (album Obsession/ 2000), Bert Heerink (nl) (as "Zeven dagen in Memphis" Dutch - album Net op tijd/ 2000), Michael Jones (as "Marcher dans Memphis" French - album Prises et reprises/ 2004), Barb Jungr (album Walking in the Sun/ 2006), and the John Tesh Project (instrumental - album Discovery/ 1996).

Dance tracks based on "Walking in Memphis"[edit]

Shut Up and Dance version ("Raving I'm Raving")[edit]

In 1992, English band Shut Up and Dance released "Raving I'm Raving", a breakbeat hardcore track based significantly on "Walking in Memphis". Several lyrics were altered including the line "I'm walking in Memphis" becoming "I'm raving, I'm raving".

The single reached #2 on the UK Singles Chart in May 1992,[30] but ran into difficulties as they had not obtained clearance. As a result, the track was banned, causing it to fall to #15 the next week then leave the charts completely. Proceeds were ordered to be given to charity.

Scooter version ("I'm Raving")[edit]

In 1996, German hard dance band Scooter released a similar cover entitled "I'm Raving"[31] as a single from their album Wicked!. The single went gold in Germany and peaked at number 4 on the German charts.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Explore: Soft Rock | Top Songs | AllMusic". Web.archive.org. 2011-11-12. Retrieved 2014-02-10. 
  2. ^ Knopper, Steve. "Marc Cohn went back to 1970 for latest album". ChicagoTribrune.com. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Brown, G. (15 November 1991). "Marc Cohn influenced by club singer". Denver Post. 
  4. ^ Chang, Mary. "Song Analysis #3: Marc Cohn – ‘Walking in Memphis’". musicinnotes.wordpress.com. Music in Notes. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  5. ^ Waterman, Michael. "Walking in Memphis – Marc Cohn". TopOneHitWonders.com. Top One Hit Wonders. Retrieved 25 April 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c "Walking in Memphis", in various singles charts Lescharts.com (Retrieved January 2, 2009)
  7. ^ German Singles Chart Charts-surfer.de (Retrieved January 2, 2009)
  8. ^ Irish Single Chart Irishcharts.ie (Retrieved January 2, 2009)
  9. ^ UK Singles Chart Chartstats.com (Retrieved January 2, 2009)
  10. ^ "Marc Cohn Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Marc Cohn.
  11. ^ "Marc Cohn Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Adult Contemporary for Marc Cohn.
  12. ^ "Marc Cohn Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Marc Cohn.
  13. ^ "Marc Cohn Album & Song Chart History". Billboard. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 16, 2013. 
  14. ^ Review by Allmusic Retrieved 15 October 2013
  15. ^ Album review by Entertainment Weekly Retrieved October 2013
  16. ^ Cher - Walking in Memphis
  17. ^ a b c d e f "Walking In Memphis Single". 
  18. ^ Cher - Walking in Memphis
  19. ^ Cher - Walking in Memphis
  20. ^ Cher - One By One
  21. ^ Cher - One By One/Walking In Memphis
  22. ^ "Walking in Memphis", in Austrian, Swedish, and Dutch, Singles Chart Lescharts.com (Retrieved February 19, 2009)
  23. ^ RPM Official charts Canada
  24. ^ http://www.officialcharts.com/charts/scottish-singles-chart/19951022/41
  25. ^ UK Singles Chart [1] . Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  26. ^ . Billboard http://www.musicvf.com/Cher.art. Retrieved 1 May 2015.  Text "Top Songs / Chart Singles Discography" ignored (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  27. ^ "Celebrating 20 Years With Lonestar, by Kathy Stockbridge". NYSMusic.com. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  28. ^ "Lonestar Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot Country Songs for Lonestar.
  29. ^ "Lonestar Album & Song Chart History" Billboard Hot 100 for Lonestar.
  30. ^ Roberts, David (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 455. ISBN 1-904994-00-8. 
  31. ^ Roberts, David (2005). British Hit Singles & Albums (18th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 443. ISBN 1-904994-00-8. 

External links[edit]