The song “Walking in Memphis” was a breakout hit for singer-songwriter Marc Cohn. His deep soulful voice, accompanied by sweet piano, descriptive heartfelt lyrics, and a beautifully done black and white video made the song something truly special. It’s bluesy and gospely (??). All these years later I still love the song and appreciate the artistry of the whole enterprise.
The cover video with Sugarland and Little Big Town opens with a voiceover and scenes of the two groups practicing and working out the harmonies. At first I was just “oh just get to the song, please”, but the behind the scenes stuff was actually nice and fun. Then you get to see the result of all that practice, live on stage. And it is quite wonderful. Country twang and all. The groups have a sincere love and respect for the song and it shows proudly.
Cher does a truly excellent cover of this as well. I first heard it in a memorable episode of The X-Files. Unfortunately they couldn’t get Cher herself to do it onscreen, but it still worked well. It really showcases what a powerful voice she has. Her video is also done in black and white, just like the Marc Cohn original.
The song was covered by another country group, Lonestar. I don’t like their version at all. They speeded (sped?) up the tempo and it doesn’t work for me. It’s like they sort of stripped the heart out of the song.
Speaking of stripped, Juri Rother from The Voice of Germany does a really, really stripped down cover. It’s too precious. It doesn’t feel sincere to me.
Surprisingly the Tom Jones rendition doesn’t really move me. It’s okay. He may be singing from with heart, but I don’t think of it as one of his best.
I found a video of Gavin DeGraw doing this live (squeeee!!!). Gavin is a phenomenal talent – singing, songwriting, performing. And he’s not too bad to look at either. What can I say – I’m officially a pervy old lady now!
According to Wikipedia, The Skott Freedman version “remains one of the most popular downloaded versions of “Memphis” on iTunes“. Um, I’m not really sure why though.
Shut Up and Dance basically stole the song and put some slightly different lyrics and some weird rubber band sounds and electronic shite all over it, then called it “Raving, I’m Raving”. And that’s the entire purpose of the song – a framework for trippy drug-fueled dancing. Lame. And very bizarre.