ROBERT GORDON discusses his collection of essays MEMPHIS RENT PARTY

Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown (Bloomsbury)

Memphis: the birthplace of rock ’n’ roll, soul music capital, and home of the blues, this fabled city has played a major role in American music history. In his new book Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music’s Hometown, celebrated writer and documentary filmmaker Robert Gordon taps into the lesser-known characters of Memphis who have inspired and influenced popular music, from the 1970s into the present.

With interwoven stories and profiles, Memphis Rent Party begins where the greatest hits end. Gordon charts his own musical coming-of-age as he befriends blues legend Furry Lewis, Rolling Stones’ accompanist Jim Dickinson, and the high priest of indie rock, Alex Chilton. He mulls the tragedy of Jeff Buckley’s fatal swim, chronicles the power struggle to profit off singer-songwriter Robert Johnson’s legacy after his mysterious early death, and sips homemade whiskey at revolutionary blues guitarist Junior Kimbrough’s churning house parties. Gordon’s march through the city’s famed recording studios and juke joints captures the spirit of Memphis and illuminates its musical legacy that lives on today.

As with the rent parties from which the book takes its name—people gathering to hear live music, dance, and chip in to help a friend in hard times—Memphis Rent Party offers moments of celebration in the face of tragedy, optimism when the wolf is at the door. Gordon finds inspiration in life’s bleakness, art in the shadows of society, and revels in the individualism of these music legends.

An accompanying LP will be released by Fat Possum Records. The artists on the soundtrack are among those featured in the book.

Praise for Memphis Rent Party

“Robert’s feel for his subject is very similar to the subjects’ feel for their music. Blues, being the wellspring of all American music for over a century, is always worth studying. Robert does it right.” —Keith Richards

“This is an emotional map of musical Memphis. If you don’t know these characters, let Robert Gordon introduce you. If they are familiar to you, then you will enjoy the wit and modesty of his portraiture and perspective.”—Elvis Costello

“Proof that Southern heritage is American heritage, and all sorts of people—black and white, familiar and strange, dead and alive—are what it is.” —Greil Marcus

Robert Gordon has been writing about Memphis music and history for thirty years and is the author of It Came from Memphis, Can’t Be Satisfied, The King on the Road, The Elvis Treasures, and Respect Yourself. He won a Grammy in 2011 for his liner notes to the Big Star box set Keep an Eye on the Sky. His film work includes producing and directing the documentary Respect Yourself: The Stax Records Story and the Emmy-winning Best of Enemies. Gordon lives in Memphis. Follow him at www.TheRobertGordon.com.

Photo by Trey Harrison

Event date: 
Friday, April 27, 2018 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1818 N Vermont Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music's Hometown By Robert Gordon Cover Image
Possibly out of print. Email or call to check availability and price.
ISBN: 9781632867735
Published: Bloomsbury USA - March 6th, 2018

Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion By Robert Gordon Cover Image
ISBN: 9781608194162
Availability: Backordered
Published: Bloomsbury USA - February 3rd, 2015

Can't Be Satisfied: The Life and Times of Muddy Waters By Robert Gordon Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316164948
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Back Bay Books - June 1st, 2003