Just Walk On By

In ‘The Dark End of the Street’ was written by record producer, guitarist, songwriter, recording engineer and owner of American Sound Studio in Memphis Chips Moman and songwriter, singer, musician, and record producer Dan Penn in 1966.  It was first recorded by James Carr and released on his 1967 album You Got My Mind Messed Up and the single charted #77, but it became a top-10 hit on the Billboard black singles charts.  Chips Moman and Dan Penn wrote this song in 30 minutes when they were at a DJ convention in Nashville where they were in a poker game, and they took a break and went back to their room.  It is one of the most recorded pain filled soul ballads of all time and an absolute soul gem.  It seems to be a tale about an illicit affair that involves cheating, but some people feel it may be about an interracial relationship.  The song is based on a conversation where both parties know that what they are doing is wrong.  They worry that they will be caught, but they can’t stop the love that has developed between them.  They agree that if they happen to meet each other downtown in the daytime where others can see them, that they will do their best to ignore each other.

James Carr sang this song with his luscious baritone voice accompanied by guitar, bass, drums and piano.  Other additions are occasional horn reinforcements and Penn supplying harmony vocals.  Carr is widely considered one of the great soul singers and he died in 2001 after an erratic career which saw him disappear for many years because of mental issues.  Carr started in gospel but emerged in the Sixties when soul music was coming of age, he fit right in, bringing that deep understanding of pain and redemption to secular lyrics.  Percy Sledge, Aretha Franklin, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Lee Hazlewood and Ann-Margret, Ry Cooder, Linda Ronstadt, Gregg Allman, Elvis Costello and several other artists all recorded this song.

At the dark end of the street
That’s where we always meet
Hiding in shadows where we don’t belong
Living in darkness to hide our wrong
You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me
I know time is gonna take its toll
We’re have pay for the love we stole
It’s a sin and we know it’s wrong
Oh but our love keeps coming on strong
Steal away, to the dark end of the street, mmm mmm
They’re gonna find us
They’re gonna find us
They’re gonna find us, oh someday
You and me, at the dark end of the street
You and me
And when the daylight hour rolls around
And by chance we’re both downtown
If we should meet, just walk on by
Oh darling, please don’t cry
Tonight we’ll meet
At the dark end of the street, mmm mmm

Written for Mindlovemisery’s Menagerie MM Music challenge Promises In The Dark.

14 thoughts on “Just Walk On By

  1. The Linda Ronstadt version is the one I heard. Always sounded like an extramarital affair to me but I can see it as being abut an interracial relationship. Heck it could easily be both. Back in the 60s/70s we had a different notion of what constituted “sin.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. It certainly is a different world now. When I analyzed the lyrics, I thought that it could have been about homosexuals in love, as back in the day they stayed in the closet or went to the dark end of the street.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ah, that was it. Just read it in another comment. The Commitments. I have an album, the songs from The Commitments, but by the soul artists. The version I knew was by Percy Sledge. Dunno where I got Otis from, but he did about 3 songs on that same album.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. At the beginning of the video I thought they had the wrong song. I like the emotional anguish of the lyrics and Carr captures it so well in the vocals. Trying to imagine Elvis Costello covering it and failing. I bet Jerry Butler could do it justice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I really like the Elvis Costello version of the song. Fact is, I like a lot of his music right from the beginning with the punchy ‘My Aim Is True’ debut album and right up to ‘Wise Up Ghosts’ released a few years ago.
    ‘King Of America’ being my all time favourite album of his.

    Liked by 1 person

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