The original version of Dusty in Memphis [discogs.com] was released in 1969, almost a full decade before I was born and more then two decades before I got into music. I guess a normal path to this album would be one of my parents listening to it when I was young, but as far as I know neither of my parents were ever fans. My mother was mainly into Elvis [discogs.com], and the less rocky stuff and listened to a lot of country music, both classic, for which I have some appreciation, and contemporary (at the time I was growing up) for which I have no appreciation —none at all… Meanwhile my dad was into mostly classical music, lots of Boston Pops [discogs.com] LPs and the soundtracks, from Star Wars [discogs.com] to Victory at Sea [discogs.com].
So how did I find it? Pure serendipity. I stumbled across this “deluxe” reissue [discogs.com] in a used CD shop in Angel, London. I bought two albums that day that both became favorites (the other was Faithless’ Back to Mine). Between the two of them they are the soundtrack of London in my mind. Not that I didn’t listen to other music but I associate these albums with London, wondering around the city, sitting my my tinny dorm room on Bastwick street.
I don’t know why I bought Dusty in Memphis, I don’t think I even listened to it at the shop, at least I don’t remember listening to it. But I listened to it a lot the rest of my time in London and many, many times since then.
The deluxe version contains the whole original Dusty In Memphis release, that’s 11 songs, plus 14 more. From the beginning I listened to this album start to finish on repeat. Of the original album songs Son of a Preacher Man was the most popular, it charted in the US and UK according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org], though they note the album itself was a commercial failure. It’s been covered several times and I knew it from its use in Pulp Fiction [imdb.com]. It’s a great song. The Windmills of Your Mind and In the Land of Make Believe are my other favorites of the original 11. Windmills is one of my all time favorite songs, period. It’s amazing.
In the deluxe section my favorite songs are What do You do when Love Dies, Willie & Laura Mae Jones, Have A Good Life Baby, and Natchez Trace.
The whole album has a melancholic, bluesy feeling. Great to listen to on a rainy day or alone in the dark. Both things I did a lot in London.
The last thing that must be said about my experience with Dusty in Memphis is it’s association with rabbits. I wrote about it before [confusion.cc], but in short, I was obsessed with Dusty in Memphis and listened to it on endless repeat while reading Watership Down [goodreads.com] when I was in London and now every time I listen to it I can see rabbits in my mind. Anytime I think about Watership Down I can hear these songs. Its a strange association, but there it is.
Want to listen? Here is the album on Apple Music:
And on Spotify. Note that the full “Deluxe” version is not on Spotify, or at least I can’t find it, but here is a 19 track version: