Monday, July 21, 2008


I first became aware of the song writing of Dan Penn through the work of James Carr. (See my post on Carr from June 2) Penn wrote The Dark End of the Street, which was Carr's biggest selling single. It is a great song. After hearing it, I wanted to learn more about Dan Penn. 

Dan Penn grew up in Vernon, Alabama and became interested in music and song writing at an early age. He wrote I'm Your Puppet, which was a charted hit for James and Bobby Purify in 1966. He moved to Memphis the same year and began writing for Press Publishing and working with Chip Morman at American Studio. They wrote Dark Side of the Street together.

 Not long afterward, Jerry Wexler brought an unknown Aretha Franklin to Memphis and Dan and Chip wrote Do Right Woman, Do Right Man for her 1967 breakout album I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You. In 1967, Penn produced The Letter for the Box Tops and wrote their hit, Cry Like A Baby with Spooner Oldham. He also wrote You Left the Water Running for Otis Redding.

Although known for his song writing, Penn may be one of the best white soul singers you have never heard of. Some say that his demos were actually better than the versions by some of the great soul singers of all time. This is a big statement, but his album, Do Right Man supports the idea. It is one you need to own and is available from iTunes. At the least, you need to have these Dan Penn songs on your playlist:

  1. The Dark End of the Street
  2. Do Right Woman, Do Right Man
  3. I'm Your Puppet
  4. Like Pouring Water on a Drowning Man
  5. Cry Like a Man
  6. You Left the Water Running
  7. It Tears Me Up

1 comment:

  1. Dan is an absolute hero of mine and this is a very fine record indeed.