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The Memphis Train - Rufus Thomas

There was a short time, in the mid sixties, when Stax studios were churning out classic after classic, so that Stax journeymen like Rufus Thomas could hardly get a look-in on the southern soul radio playtime. But Thomas was more than just a journeyman, he had recorded on some of the greatest rock and soul labels since his debut including spells with Chess, Sun and Meteor. By the time he pitched up at Stax in 1960 he'd been recording for a decade and performing for two as well as m/c'ing talent shows and being a blues and r&b radio deejay. At Stax he was the grandaddy, the old pro from whom they all sought advice, from funky vocals to the best stage moves to excite the audience. His daughter Carla sold more records than he did, but that fact does not take account of the impact he had on people like Otis Redding, Wilson Picket and Eddie Floyd behind the scenes.

We've moved a little along from Kansas City to Memphis and once that train gets moving we're in for a hot, sweaty time with the self-styled Field Marshall of Funk and Booker T and the MG's and the Memphis Horns all working overtime:

"Now how long must I wait for you

Uh, all right

Time I laid my handkerchief on the floor I'm getting ready to crawl, yeah I'm getting down on my knees I'm getting ready to crawl, yeah...."

She's arriving by rail but train after train is coming in from Memphis and she's not on any of them. The handkerchief on the floor is the act of a desperate man who will do ANYTHING to get his girl.

And you know when he repeats:

"how long must I wait for you?" - he's not going anywhere.

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