The Verge Playlist: Memphis stew

The beating heart of American music has a present for you


I cut my teeth as a rookie reporter working at The Flyer, the alternative weekly paper in Memphis, Tennessee. I learned a lot about journalism, but my real education that year was musical. Coming from Wesleyan University, I thought I knew a lot about what was worth listening to, which records were hip, which artists to name drop. Memphis changed all that.

The city is technically in Tennessee, but really straddles the border of two other states, Mississippi and Arkansas. Most of the great artists we associate with Memphis — Johnny Cash, Elvis Presley, Al Green, Otis Redding — came there from somewhere else. As legendary local producer Jim Dickinson said, "Memphis will get all over you If you're sensitive. It's like you know certain people can walk into Memphis and it's like a lightning rod...Bam! — hits 'em. If you think about the history of Memphis music, it's not people from Memphis it's people who came to Memphis."

It's a melting pot that's always boiling over with racial and cultural exchange. It's the birthplace of Rock and Roll, Funk and Soul. Take a little trip with me down the mighty Mississippi river, and sample some of that sweet Delta sound.

Sadly, several tracks are not available on Rdio.


Memphis Soul Stew - King Curtis
Hound Dog - Big Mama Thornton
Milk Cow Blues - Elvis Presley
Memphis - Chuck Berry
You’ve Got to Lose - Ike Turner & The Kings of Rhythm
If You Want Me You Can Find Me - Lawsome & Four More
Drowning - Reigning Sound
My Shadow - Jay Reatard
Stop & Think It Over - Compulsive Gamblers
Feel All Right - Oblivians
Stay Fly - Three 6 Mafia
Getting Nasty - Ike & Tina
Ace of Spades - O.V. Wright
Walk On By - Isaac Hayes
Big Bird - Eddie Floyd
After Laughter (Comes Tears) - Wendy Rene
The Love You Save (May Be Your Own) - Joe Tex
Folsom City Blues - Johnny Cash
Bad Luck City - R.L. Burnside
Just Walking In the Rain - The Prisonaires
Left Your Door Unlocked - Harlan T. Bobo
Back Up Train - Al Green
Uncloudy Day - The Staple Singers
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