Last Month’s Song of the Month: “The Dark End of the Street”

Falling a little bit behind, as I am engrossed in other writing activities. But I should continue to make a couple posts each month.

While reviewing the unrated songs in the collection, which includes entire albums yet to be trimmed down to essentials, I came across “The Dark End of the Street” on a Van Morrison concert recording, sung by Linda Gail Lewis, who accompanied Van for a short stint around the turn of the century. It sounded nice, so I did what I do, which is do a little research on the song and look for definitive versions on iTunes.

The song is written by Dan Penn and Chips Moman, who were trying to write the greatest cheating song of all time. The original version is by James Carr, who recorded the song with the Muscle Shoals house band, and the song became his greatest hit, reaching #77 on the pop charts in 1967.

How I missed this song for all those years mystifies me. Once again, I am floored by the power of simple lyrics:

“I know time is gonna take it’s toll,
We have to pay for the love we stole,
It’s a sin and we know it’s wrong,
Oh, but our love keeps coming on strong
Steal away to the dark end of the street, you and me.”

The Dark End of the Street, James Carr ✭✭✭✭
The Dark End of the Street, The Flying Burrito Brothers ✭✭
The Dark End of the Street, Linda Gail Lewis (not included in the collection)

There are dozens of versions of “The Dark End of the Street” available, as it is a very popular song among artists, perhaps because it is a great song that wasn’t overexposed. Percy Sledge has a nice version, but it doesn’t eclipse the great original.

I heard a nice version of “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me” on YouTube recently, by She and Him, a duo consisting of actress Zooey Deschanel and musician M. Ward. Deschanel is probably best remembered for her role in “Almost Famous” as the daughter who leaves home with her boyfriend to escape her watchful mother, played by Francis McDormand. Sweet movie about the music of Cameron Crowe’s youth.

The best version is still the original. The Beatles’ version is beautifully executed, but is basically a copy of the Miracles.

You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles ✭✭✭✭
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, The Beatles ✭✭✭
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, Me’Shell Ndegeocello ✭✭ (from “Standing in the Shadows of Motown”
You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me, She and Him not included in the collection – does not make the cut…yet

Instead, I added:

This Is Not a Test, She and Him

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