Signing & Reading of “Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown” by Robert Gordon

The fabled city of Memphis has been essential to American music—home of the blues, birthplace of rock and roll, and a soul music capital. When Robert Gordon started covering Memphis music, the golden ages of his hometown had passed. But the links were there if you looked for them. Starting as a teenager, Gordon sought out old legends Furry Lewis and Mose Vinson, spent time at Jr. Kimbrough’s house parties, went into the grooves of records by Leadbelly and Robert Johnson, and picked up the threads in the new sounds that were developing around him, becoming the official chronicler of the Memphis scene.

Memphis Rent Party compiles the best of these short pieces from the first three decades of Gordon’s career, many previously unpublished. The focus is on Memphis, but, like mint seeping into bourbon, Gordon gets into the wider world. In addition to homegrown renegades Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star) and producer Jim Dickinson (Replacements, Rolling Stones), he spends time with those whom Memphis has inspired, like Cat Power, Jeff Buckley and Townes Van Zandt. A rent party is when friends come together to hear music, dance, and help a pal through hard times. With this stellar collection, Gordon—a deep listener, passionate cultural commentator, and unparelleled scribe of Southern sound—throws a rent party that will keep readers reading, music lovers listening, and culture hounds howling for more.

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