Dark End of the Street

I never met a cover of “Dark End of the Street” that I didn’t like.* The song was written in 1967 and first performed by James Carr, who brought it to the top 10 of Billboard’s Black Singles Chart. Since then, it’s been covered by everybody. No shame in admitting that I first learned of the song from The Commitments—great movie, great version, really great girls section.

After wearing through my mom’s Commitments tape, I stuck with the Percy Sledge classic. Then, in high school, I was obsessed with the instrumental Ry Cooder treatment, which remains the very height of hot in my estimation, despite it being the guilt-ridden, fruitless pining variety of hot. Hotter still with this great men in slacks section?

Elvis Costello, Aretha, The Boss, Cat Power, Flying Burrito Brothers, Lee Hazlewood + Ann-Margaret, apparently, and these guysyou name it, they’ve covered it. I would catch hell at home if I didn’t specially mention Richard and Linda Thompson’s version, which is good good good and notably adult-sad to me. Which is your favorite?

*One notable exception: The egregious Courtney Love + Ryan Adams duet, my god.

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