Parnassus Books is delighted to welcome Robert Gordon as he reads from and signs his latest book, Memphis Rent Party: The Blues, Rock & Soul in Music's Hometown.
The fabled city of Memphis has been essential to American music--home of the blues, the birthplace of rock and roll, a soul music capital. We know the greatest hits, but celebrated author Robert Gordon takes us to the people and places history has yet to record. A Memphis native, he whiles away time in a crumbling duplex with blues legend Furry Lewis, stays up late with barrelhouse piano player Mose Vinson, and sips homemade whiskey at Junior Kimbrough's churning house parties. A passionate listener, he hears modern times deep in the grooves of old records by Lead Belly and Robert Johnson.
The interconnected profiles and stories in Memphis Rent Party convey more than a region. Like mint seeping into bourbon, Gordon gets into the wider world. He beholds the beauty of mistakes with producer Jim Dickinson (Replacements, Rolling Stones), charts the stars with Alex Chilton (Box Tops, Big Star), and mulls the tragedy of Jeff Buckley's fatal swim. Gordon's Memphis inspires Cat Power, attracts Townes Van Zandt, and finds James Carr always singing at the dark end of the street.
A rent party is when friends come together to hear music, dance, and help a pal through hard times; it's a celebration in the face of looming tragedy, an optimism when the wolf is at the door. Robert Gordon finds mystery in the mundane, inspiration in the bleakness, and revels in the individualism that connects these diverse encounters.
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.