Johnny Rawls

Memphis Still Got Soul

Johnny Rawls performs July 1 & 2, 9 p.m., at Raymond’s, 2941 E. Center St., Anderson.

The title track of soul/blues man Johnny Rawls’ new CD stresses the hardiness of the Memphis music scene and includes a line that—due to the flooding—is even more topical now than when he wrote it. Over a relaxed beat with horn accompaniment he sings, “Lord, some of the legends, time take its toll; the Mississippi River keep rollin’, Memphis still got soul.” In the cover story in a 2002 issue of Living Blues, the 60-year-old Rawls—who has 11 CDs out on various labels—describes his style as “between gospel, blues and good hard soul music,” and that’s definitely what he serves up here in his 10 originals and a cover of O.V. Wright’s hit “Blind, Crippled and Crazy.” Rawls spent several years as Wright’s band leader, and this is his homage to his mentor. No slouch himself when it comes to writing songs, his “Flying Blind” has one of the best lines I’ve heard in a long time: “You walked into my life like a thief through an open door.” “Take You for a Ride” continues the history of car-related double entendres but with a twist: he invites his friend to bring along her sister, too—“she can ride in back.”