Sunday, March 10, 2013

Southern soul songwriter Dan Penn revisits past with new record, return to Memphis

Southern soul songwriter Dan Penn revisits past with new record, return to Memph_2013-03-10_09-13-59

From the site:

Back in the mid-1960s, Dan Penn was what you’d call an all-nighter. A workaholic, a musical obsessive, he spent his wee hours at Fame Studios in Muscle Shoals, Ala., doing what he did best: wrestling songs to the ground.

Fueled by copious amounts of coffee, cigarettes and speed, and buoyed by a burning passion for R&B, Penn — usually with his writing partner and pianist Spooner Oldham in tow — would come to shape Southern soul music during those late nights.

“I had a big passion for what I was doing,” says the 71-year-old Penn. “We’d start in the evening, fooling around, looking for an idea or a groove. Then we’d write and cut till 2, 3, 4 in the morning; sometimes we’d stay there till sun came up. We were young and had a lot of energy then but that seems like another lifetime ago.”

Soul Hero Dan Penn Comes Back to Memphis for a Concert at Rhodes

Dan Penn

From the site:

 Memphis Flyer: I don't know how else to ask. How do you write a song as good as "The Dark End of the Street"?
Dan Penn: That's a good question. If you find out, tell me, because I'd like to write another one like it. Chips and me were really close at that time. We knew each other pretty good, and we had a lot of doggone respect for each other. And we'd had a lot of good times together. Also, I think songwriters, Southern songwriters at least, are inspired by Hank Williams. "Your Cheatin' Heart" is about the best slipping-around song there is. Then Jimmy Hughes did "Steal Away."

And you were at FAME when Hughes recorded that, right?
I got to watch all that go down. And I learned a lot. I didn't feel like I was stealing from him [on "Dark End of the Street"], but he was definitely an inspiration. So you keep on trying to write this particular kind of cheating song. And in the '60s that seemed to be highly important.

Having written hits already, when you finished writing "Dark End," did you know it was going to be your "Your Cheatin' Heart"?
I thought it was good when James Carr sang it. I can't say that I knew it right off because we wrote it in a hotel room in Nashville, and it was a good while before we had the demo down where we could play it back.