Sheryl Crow's Memphis Song

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Central to the story of Memphis music is the city as an urban oasis in the middle of America's most musically fertile region. Jerry Lee Lewis came from Ferriday, Louisiana. Johnny Cash from Dyess, Arkansas. Elvis Presley from Tupelo, Mississippi. Charlie Rich from Colt, Arkansas. Carl Perkins from rural west Tennessee. Blues musicians traveled up from both sides of the Mississippi Delta. For some reason, the one rural area in Memphis' sphere of influence that doesn't have a representative story to tell is southern Missouri.

Sheryl Crow, a native of small-town Kennett, Missouri, which is approximately 79 miles northwest of Memphis, aims to fill that gap — sort of — on her new album, 100 Miles From Memphis, which rounds up the mileage into something a bit more poetic.

Aside from trying to replicate the Hi Records sound on a cover of Terence Trent D'arby's "Sign Your Name" and asking Millington's Favorite Son, Justin Timberlake, to jump in on background vocals, the title track is really the only Memphis-centric content on the album.

Blending Memphis soul into ’70s-style rootsy radio pop (where Crow is at her most comfortable), the song finds a reliable groove, but probably lacks the specificity to make anyone's short list of classic "Memphis" songs. It hints at a story: "I was stuck in this border town," she laments. "There's a whole world waiting/Waiting on the other side of the line," she promises. But it doesn't quite follow through on its Memphis as Mecca echoes. Nevertheless, "100 Miles From Memphis" is sure to be a highlight when Crow debuts it locally tonight at Mud Island Amphitheatre. Showtime is 8 p.m. Colbie Caillat opens.

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