by Chris Davis
Yesterday I was ready to unilaterally bestow the above title on Sonny Craver's weirdo soul single "Outside of Memphis," a song that claims Memphis is so great we should "build a wall" around ourselves to keep from being pillaged. But now I'm not so sure. In an approving response to the original post, a friend who shares my love of lost vinyl (and the absurd), reminded me of another oddity that earns bonus points for having been recorded in Memphis, at Style Wooten's Park Ave. studio, and released on Wooten's wonderfully-named Camaro label.
Although the song is ostensibly about a girl, "I Found My Love in Memphis," seems to be less of a love song than Chamber of Commerce propaganda cataloging the city's many amenities. Breakout couplet:
"We have more churches than filling stations/One of the best cities in the nation."
I haven't been able to track down much information about Wooten, Camaro, or the singer/songwriter George Clappes, but here's what I've got so far. Between 1968-78 Wooten cut a number of records in Memphis including a version of the song "Rub it In," which was recorded two years before Billy Craddock made it a hit. His business was, in part, a vanity studio attracting customers "song poem-style" with print ads suggesting that a big hit record was only $425 away. Wooten released country, rock, and blues records but is probably best remembered by record collectors for the (sometimes psychedelic) gospel releases on his Designer label. Available sources suggest he passed away after moving from Memphis to Jackson, MS but none of that has been confirmed.
I've attempted to contact Clappes who moved to VA and, according to one source, is still performing oldies and gospel songs for nursing home patients. He hasn't responded yet, but I've got my fingers crossed that I'll soon know the story behind this vintage oddity that was frequently covered by one of Memphis' oddest bands, The Grundies, who were active in the early 1990's and who also did a mean cover of Eddie Bond's Buford Pusser epic, "What a Lawman."
It has been more recently performed by Memphis music expats James Enck and Linda Heck.
Just to keep things straight, Fly on the Wall isn't a music blog. All the good stuff happens over at Sing All Kinds. But considering FOTW's commitment to the stranger side of Memphis and the sheer volume of songs written about our musical home, exploring the novelties may need to become a regular feature here at FOTW. So if you know of an unusual song mentioning Memphis, share it. I'll do my best to tell its story.