Thursday, June 30, 2011

30 Day Song Challenge, Day 30: Your Favorite Song This Time Last Year

Today's the last day of the 30 Day Song Challenge, and it's been a lot of fun for me. That's partly because I love music so much, and spending a whole month thinking about the different whys and wherefores that brought me to the songs that I love has indeed been a "challenge," but a thoroughly enjoyable one. This is also the first time that I've dedicated my blog entirely to one topic for such an extended period of time. I'd like to do something like this again in July, but I haven't yet found a 31-day worthy topic, so I'll leave the comments section open for suggestions. Maybe I'll aim for more modest challenges-- like 10- or 14-day ones.

It was about this time last year that my very dear friend E introduced me to The (other) "King" Solomon Burke's excellent album Nashville. I've been a fan of Solomon Burke's Philly-soul sound for a long, long time, but I had no idea that he had recorded an album of Nashville (country) standards reinterpreted through that Philly-soul sound. The combination, as unlikely as it may seem, is a perfect one. And Burke's execution of it is pure sonic gold.

The song I've chosen for today was most definitely my favorite song at this time last year. It's Solomon Burke's version of the old Tom T. Hall ballad "That's How I Got To Memphis." Here's a live version of Burke performing it (and it takes a little while to buffer, so be patient):

I heard a few years ago that the city of Memphis is mentioned in more songs (over 1000 and still counting) than any other city in America. A well-deserved notoriety, in my view. I like this song because it's not sung from the point of view of a Memphian who loves Memphis, but rather from the point of view of someone who followed his heart, which demanded that he follow a Memphian back to Memphis. Burke's right, if you love somebody enough, you'll go wherever they want you to go. If that's how you got to Memphis, you should count yourself doubly lucky.

Memphis has got a lot of problems, to be sure, but (as my friend Dr. Trott once told me) you can't really say you love a place until it's given you reason not to love it. The same goes for people. I think "That's How I Got To Memphis" manages to capture that insight about both places and people. I love Memphis all the more because it's given me plenty of reasons not to love it, and I don't think that's some kind of nativist sentiment on my part. I think you've got to spend the time and effort to see everything this city has to give... and that's a lot. Y'all should come here sometime and see for yourself.

I'll just wrap up this 30 Day Song Challenge by saying that I count being from a city that is so thoroughly infused with music as one of the great serendipities in my life. That's not how I got to Memphis, but it sure is why I'm happy to stay.

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