Appalachia Music


Memphis song

Famous rock n roll blues singer Chuck Berry wrote the song Memphis Tennessee. Berry’s recording of the song reached #6 on the UK Billboard Charts but didn’t rank as high on the US Charts.

In 1964 Johnny Rivers released his version of the song, making it all the way to #2 on the US Billboard Charts and simultaneously kickstarting his impressive musical career.

I first heard the Rivers version of Memphis and immediately fell in love with the song. It has great words, a catchy tune, and it’s one of those story songs that surprise you in the end.

All along you think he’s talking about his girlfriend or wife, but in the end you discover he’s actually talking about his 6 yr old daughter Marie. My favorite part of the song is where he says his uncle wrote the message on the wall.

The Blind Pig Gang always has a lot of fun doing the song. Check it out.


I hope you enjoyed the song. Three things made me want to share it today:

  1. Our talk of telephones earlier this week.
  2. Valentines Day and the love that can be shared between fathers and daughters.
  3. My nephew, Ben does the break in the song, so we don’t do it very often since he moved way up north, but I heard he’s coming home for a visit.


*Sources: Song Facts, Chuck Berry Bio, Wikipedia.


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  • Reply
    February 20, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Wow that was a great acoustic rendition,its not easy without an electric.

  • Reply
    February 16, 2015 at 10:56 am

    I remember as a kid momma and daddy playing that song on the record player. It was on an album by Bobby Bare. It wasn’t until later I learned of the Berry and Rivers versions. I love it and hearing it brought back some great memories. Helped warm me up. The snow is falling fast and furious in Kentucky today, couldn’t get out to go to work. Keep Warm All, Judith

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 11:02 pm

    I remember that song from my teen years. We loved to sing along and dance to it.
    BTW – The links to share your dailies on Facebook are gone.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 4:27 pm

    Good stuff!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 4:20 pm

    Hi Tipper,Sure enjoyed the 3 generations this morning!!God Bless.

  • Reply
    Phyllis S
    February 15, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    What a treat today….the music is beautiful. Will listen over and over and be tapping my feet. Thanks

  • Reply
    Gary Fletcher
    February 15, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    I would say that the melody was innovative, not catchy. The lyrics were innovative too, compared with the inanity of the general run of the popular songs in the USA at the time. It took a European-American (aka “white” man, even if he was a “Cajun”) to make the song acceptable to the public in the USA in those days.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 15, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    That Ben is a nice looking young man and a fine picker too. I can’t help but wonder what he will look like when that nice head of hair goes where Pap’s, Paul’s and my own went.

  • Reply
    Sue Crane
    February 15, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Love it — Pap’s getting a little jiggy with it, too.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm

    Ah! Such fond memories! Brings me back many, many years! Great singing!

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 11:46 am

    I bet Steve and his wife are real
    proud of their 2 boys and April.
    (the other gorgeous Indian Princess.) That’s a great song!
    When I lived and worked in Atlanta in the late 60’s, I bought one of those 4-track tape players for our car, nearly wore out a tape of Johnny Rivers. It
    had that song on it. Nice job
    by all the Blind Pig Gang…Ken

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 11:25 am

    Thank you for letting us know you made it!!
    Blind Pig The Acorn
    Celebrating and Preserving the
    Culture of Appalachia

  • Reply
    Roger Fingar
    February 15, 2015 at 11:15 am

    Great post today. The Blind Pig Gang’s cover of this heartfelt melody took me back to the 1st time I heard this hit on the radio as a 9 year old. I felt for both the father and Marie in their long distance separation, and the complications of a fractured family. It was only later that I learned that Chuck Berry wrote and cut the original version which I think was a B-side, to what I can’t remember. In the late 80s I was related by marriage for a brief time, to a former bandmate (Troy Seals)of R&B legend Lonnie Mack. In my few encounters with him, he never brought up any past successes and I was pretty clueless of the far reaching (long suffering) influence Lonnie had (and has) on the R&B world. When actually seeing him publicly perform, I was curious as to the reason the crowd was overwhelmingly requesting “Memphis”, which turned out to be what I thought at the time, tobe an instrumental reflection of the Johnny Rivers hit. I quickly learned that in fact, Lonnie cut the instrumental arrangement in 63 (which was a hit it it’s own right), paving the way for Johnny Rivers to tweak Lonnie’s arrangement, add the lyrics back in and record song that could connect to the general public with a story and beat that exceeded the previous two efforts.
    In life, we never know when we might become a stepping stone for someone else’s success or someone else might become a stepping stone for us. The negative side of this promotes a climate of usery and exploitation. The positive side of this fosters an attitude of generosity and “beholdin” gratefulness which gives us a sense of being a part of something greater than our own efforts.
    Thanks for all the insightful topics that generate such lively responses.
    A future Brasstowner – Roger

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Just an update- After 2200 + miles we arrived in Salt Lake City about noon on Saturday – Saddle sore and talking about selling the truck and flying home.
    I always enjoy the music from REAL musicians. We kept the cd player hot all week playing the ‘oldies’.

  • Reply
    eva nell wike, PhD
    February 15, 2015 at 10:40 am

    WELL DONE! My only stop in Memfuss was to view Elvis’s place. My dear friend and I had been to an ALL DAY TENNIS COACHE’S meeting and did NOT want to go back to Nashville without visiting Elvis’s place. Right as we got to the gate, the sweet lady locked it – smiling – and said, “Sorry, you should have come earlier!” I have not be back! But the place is beautiful!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Bill Burnett
    February 15, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Great job on a beautiful song, now get Paul up and doing the Chuck Berry slide. This would help him stay warm during the incoming Artic Blast.

  • Reply
    February 15, 2015 at 10:03 am

    He also had a sequel titled “Little Marie” ,which I liked a lot. Another phone call song resulting in getting the family back together. Same basic tune. Liked your rendition of Memphis.

  • Reply
    Steve in Tn
    February 15, 2015 at 8:55 am

    Nice work on the song. Thanks for posting. It caused me to appreciate the words as well as the music.

  • Reply
    George Pettie
    February 15, 2015 at 8:46 am

    Agreed, Memphis is one of the greats from the annals of rock & roll.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    February 15, 2015 at 8:01 am

    Keep the music coming. It brightens the mornings.

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    February 15, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Well now…”rockin’ it” on an early Sunday morning.
    I loved this song and “rocked out” as a older teenager many times to the song. Dressed probably in my saddle oxfords, poodle style skirt and cardigan sweater! I had already graduated high school (at 17) and working my first job, by the time this was written…still went to some sock hops around! Now I’m telling on myself!
    Love the Blind Pigs rendition!
    Thanks Tipper,
    PS…Betcha’ it’s cold in Memphis and fixin’ to get rainy, icy and snowy I hear, and moving East!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 15, 2015 at 7:39 am

    That tune just sticks with me every time I hear it. I’ll be hearing it in my head all day.
    You all do a very good job of it.

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