Declare [8] : Walking in Memphis

I first heard this song because of my hunger for A capella music in my college years, (just graduated last year) , the first version I heard is by Blue Jupiter, and after my MP4 was reformatted, it was replaced by Rockapella’s.

After a year, I heard dave matthew’s band version.
I got interested deeply to this song, I don’t know who originally sang it but I think whoever he/she is, it got my heart throuh the melody and lyrics, the songs cradles me in every note, it never made me fell asleep but helps me reckon some of mistakes from the past, remember people i met before and those who i think i’ll never meet again.  But there’s a lot more meaning on this song. It’s either personal, song’s poetry can be understood in different spectrum of understanding or in general, A songwriter’s story about the place.

my questions was answered when it came crossed to me the idea to search for teh real artist who composed and gave birth to the song. the net gave me three choices, lonestar, Cher and Mark Cohn, I hit the button again hoping that my questions will be answered. Youtube gave me Mark Cohn.


I also learned that many has their own version of this infamous song. ( like gavin deGraw, Chaka Khan (urghh…ang chaka),Matt Nathanson, Howie Day, Barry Diamond (I don’t know who the heck he is..) Shut Up and Dance (Britain) Wouter de Clerck, (2nd season runner up of Bulgarian Idol, “Idool”) Master Blaster (German Band–spring awakening? hehehehe) Tom Jones (? WTF!) and Eli Mattson (from America’s got Talent)…the web offered me everything…sheezz…anyway, I uploaded my fave picks…please do comment which version is best for you. If you like a cover of this song that wasn’t including in the lsit please feel free to jot it on my comments space. I’ll upload them for you.

here’s the lyrics

Walking In Memphis lyrics

Put on my blue suede shoes
And I boarded the plane
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain
W.C. Handy — won’t you look down over me
Cause I got a first class ticket
But I’m as blue as a boy can be

Walking in Memphis
Walking with my feet ten feet off of the Beale
Walking in Memphis
Do I really feel the way I feel

Saw the ghost of Elvis
On Union Avenue
Followed him up to the gates of Graceland
Then I watched him walk right through
Now security they did not see him
They just hovered ’round his tomb
But there’s a pretty little thing
Waiting on the King
Down in the Jungle Room

They’ve got catfish on the table
They’ve got gospel in the air
And Reverend Green be glad to see you
When you haven’t got a prayer
But you got a prayer in Memphis

Now Muriel plays piano
Every Friday at the Hollywood
And they brought me down to see her
And they asked me if I would —
Do a little number
And I sang with all my might
And she said —
“Tell me are you a Christian child?”
And I said “Ma’am I am tonight”

Put on my blue suede shoes
And I boarded the plane
Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain

Touched down in the land of the Delta Blues
In the middle of the pouring rain

AMAZING FACTS ABOUT THE SONG (just in case hehehehe)
This was the first single for Cohn, who was discovered by Carly Simon. He won the 1991 Grammy for Best New Artist.

Cohn wrote this after seeing an Al Green sermon in Memphis. It is a journey to be baptized in the world of Blues music. Cohn said it is about “Spiritual Awakening.”

“Walking with my feet ten feet off of Beale” refers to Beale Street, an actual street in Memphis. Riley B. King became known as the “Beale Street Blues Boy” shortly after he first arrived in Memphis. Later, the nickname was shortened to B.B., the rest is history.

The sounds at the beginning of the song are meant to indicate falling rain.

The line, “Muriel plays piano every Friday at The Hollywood” is a reference to a local artist who played at the Hollywood Cafe, which is a small diner/music joint in Tunica County, Mississippi. Muriel has passed away, but The Hollywood is still there – you drive right past it to go to several of the casinos now located in Tunica.
W.C. Handy, who Cohn refers to in the first verse, is a blues legend. His most famous recording is “St. Louis Blues,” but he also recorded “Beale Street Blues” and “Memphis Blues.” There is a statue in his honor in Memphis.
W.C. Handy was born in Florence, Alabama. Florence, along with Tuscumbia, Sheffield, and Muscle Shoals, is part of this quad cities group usually referred to as “The Shoals” (as immortalized in Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”… ‘the Shoals have got the Swampers’). There is a huge festival that takes place every August in the Shoals that honors WC Handy. It is aptly named The WC Handy Festival, and almost everybody, from churches to bars, and even the public library, hosts programs containing Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Funk, and Rock and Roll.
The reference to “Blue Suede Shoes” is not about Elvis Presley, but about Carl Perkins, who recorded the song in Memphis for Sam Phillips at Sun Records. Perkins’ ill-luck in a car wreck stopped him from touring to promote the record, allowing Elvis’ cover version to become a massive hit. Presley’s copy was recorded at RCA studios in Nashville.

The narrator tells of seeing “The ghost of Elvis up on Union Avenue and followed him up to gates of Graceland.” Sam Phillips’ studios were called “Memphis Recording Service” and were at 706 Union Avenue. Elvis’ start on the journey to fame and fortune (i.e. Graceland) is usually attributed to the success of “Blues Suede Shoes” – and that of “Heartbreak Hotel.”

“Security didn’t see him” is probably a comment on the story that Bruce Springsteen once successfully scaled the wall at Graceland, trying to deliver a song he wrote. Apparently, Elvis wasn’t there.

“There’s catfish on table and gospel in the air” marks the dichotomy between secular and sacred. Catfish is the standard Blues metaphor for sexual intercourse. (The word is also interchangeable with the slang expression for the female sex zones). “Catfish” thus would appeal to the bodily instincts, whereas “gospel” would be to the intellect. The metaphor gains more credence since Al Green supposedly renounced secular music after being scalded with grits by a jealous girlfriend.

The lyrics refer to the girl waiting in the Jungle Room. This was the name of the play area at Elvis’ Graceland mansion where he and the crew would take care of business

Cher recorded this for her 1995 album It’s a Man’s World, and released it as a single in the UK, where it hit #11. In her version, Gabriel plays the piano instead of Muriel. It was used in the season 5 episode of The X Files called “The Post-Modern Prometheus,” which was the only black and white episode of the show.

Well that’s for now…

So Till then and Godspeed 😀


One response

  1. I’d have to set with you here. Which is not something I usually do! I love reading a post that will make people think. Also, thanks for allowing me to comment!

    May 5, 2011 at 6:53 am

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