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James Carr

One of the greatest pure vocalists that deep Southern soul ever produced, James Carr is often mentioned in the same breath as Otis Redding, Percy Sledge, and Aretha Franklin in terms of the wrenching emotional power in his delivery. Or at least he is by hardcore soul aficionados; despite producing several classic R&B singles and some of the most intense country-soul ever waxed, Carr never achieved the pop crossover success that could have made him a household name, and his material wasn't always as distinctive as that of Stax artists like Redding or Sam & Dave. Ultimately, though, Carr's greatest obstacle was himself: he was plagued for much of his life by severe depression that made pursuit of a career -- or, for that matter, even single recording sessions -- extraordinarily difficult, and derailed his occasional comeback attempts.

James Carr was born June 13, 1942, in Coahoma County, MS, near Clarksdale; his father, a minister, moved the family to Memphis when Carr was very young. Carr began singing in church at age nine, and performed with several area gospel groups in his teenage years, including the Harmony Echoes (though not, as legend had it, the Soul Stirrers). Both Carr and Echoes manager Roosevelt Jamison had been harboring ambitions for careers in secular music, and the two began looking for a solo deal for Carr in 1963. Stax turned him down, but in late 1964 he caught on with Goldwax, a Memphis label started by Quinton Claunch (who'd earlier co-founded Hi Records) that, in its early days, also featured O.V. Wright (with whom Carr had sung in the Redemption Harmonizers). Over the next couple of years, Carr cut several singles that ranged from Motown-ish pop to soul-blues, searching for the best stylistic match for his richly expressive baritone.

Carr finally hit in 1966 with the country-soul ballad "You Got My Mind Messed Up," a Top Ten R&B hit that earned him comparisons to Otis Redding. It kicked off the prime period of Carr's recording career, and among his next few singles was his clear-cut masterpiece "Dark End of the Street." Given a tortuously intense performance by Carr, "Dark End of the Street" was a bleak tale of adultery that marked the first songwriting collaboration between Dan Penn and Chips Moman; although the song was recorded by the likes of Aretha Franklin, Clarence Carter, Linda Ronstadt, and the Flying Burrito Brothers, Carr's original version still stands as definitive. Featuring other hit singles like the Redding-esque "Love Attack" and the exquisite "Pouring Water on a Drowning Man," Carr's 1966 debut LP You Got My Mind Messed Up is also considered a classic by many Southern soul collectors.

Despite Carr's first flush of success on the R&B charts over 1966-1967, things were not looking up. Carr signed on with Phil Walden, Otis Redding's manager, in 1966, but without Roosevelt Jamison around (he'd served as Carr's caretaker just as much as his manager), Carr found himself unable to deal with the stress of touring; he frequently wandered off alone and got lost. By 1968, his mental state had deteriorated greatly, making even recording sessions a challenge. He was able to complete a second LP, 1968's A Man Needs a Woman, but in Muscle Shoals for his last Goldwax session in 1969, he simply sat at the microphone and stared into space, singing only one song (the Bee Gees' "To Love Somebody"). Not long afterward, Goldwax went bankrupt; wary of the singer's instability, Capitol rescinded an offer to buy out his contract, and although Carr signed with Atlantic, he released only one single in 1971.

In 1977, Carr released one single on the small River City label, which was run by Roosevelt Jamison. Two years later, he undertook a tour of Japan that started off well; however, at the Tokyo gig, Carr -- apparently having taken too many anti-depressants -- stood motionless at the microphone as though in a hypnotic trance. He returned to Memphis, where he lived with his sister (in between institutionalizations), and spent much of the '80s barely conscious of the world around him. With medication, his condition improved to the point where Jamison and Quinton Claunch cut an album with him in 1991 for a revived Goldwax. The record, Take Me to the Limit, received mixed reviews, although its very existence was an achievement in itself. Carr was even able to return to the road, touring the blues circuits in America and Europe. In 1994, he released another album on Claunch's new Soultrax label, titled Soul Survivor. Unfortunately, Carr was soon diagnosed with lung cancer, and spent several years battling the disease before finally succumbing on January 7, 2001. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: The Complete Goldwax Singles

1. The Dark End Of The Street

2. These Ain't Raindrops

3. A Man Needs A Woman

4. Life Turned Her That Way

5. Freedom Train

6. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man

7. Everybody Needs Somebody

8. That's The Way Love Turned Out For Me

9. To Love Somebody

10. You've Got My Mind Messed Up

11. I'm A Fool For You

12. A Losing Game

13. Stronger Than Love

14. Lovable Girl

15. Forgetting You

16. Love Attack

17. She's Better Than You

18. Coming Back To Me Baby

19. That's What I Want To Know

20. Talk, Talk

21. I Can't Make It

22. Only Fools Run Away

23. You Don't Want Me

24. Lover's Competition

25. Row, Row Your Boat

26. Gonna Send You Back To Georgia

27. Let It Happen

28. A Message To Young Lovers

x

Track List: A Man Needs A Woman

1. A Man Needs A Woman

2. Stronger Than Love

3. More Love

4. You Didn't Know It But You Had Me

5. A Woman Is A Man's Best Friend

6. I'm A Fool For You

7. Life Turned Her That Way

8. Gonna Send You Back To Georgia

9. The Dark End Of The Street

10. I Sowed Love And Reaped A Heartache

11. You've Got My Mind Messed Up

12. A Losing Game

13. A Message To Young Lovers

14. Let It Happen

15. You Gotta Have Soul

16. You Hurt So Good

17. I Can't Turn You Loose

18. Let's Face Facts

19. Who's Been Warming My Oven

20. Please Your Woman

21. Your Love Made A U-Turn

22. The Lifetime Of A Man

23. Tell Me My Lying Eyes Are Wrong

24. Ring Of Fire

x

Track List: You Got My Mind Messed Up

1. Pouring Water On A Drowning Man

2. Love Attack

3. Coming Back To Me Baby

4. I Don't Want To Be Hurt Anymore

5. That's What I Want To Know

6. These Ain't Raindrops

7. The Dark End Of The Street

8. I'm Going For Myself

9. Lovable Girl

10. Forgetting You

11. She's Better Than You

12. You've Got My Mind Messed Up

13. These Arms Of Mine

14. You Don't Want Me

15. There Goes My Used To Be

16. A Lucky Loser

17. Dixie Belle

18. Search Your Heart

19. Sock It To Me, Baby!

20. My Adorable One

21. Love Is A Beautiful Thing

22. Life Turned Her That Way

23. A Losing Game

24. What Can I Call My Own

Comments

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James Carr truly was a great talent with true deep soul with maturity.
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ucker.lindse y
I grew up listening to this in my house. I still love it.
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Best Stoner love Music......S a n Antonio TX!
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I am from clarksdale, ms.,love James Carr.
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This music will never grow old.
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sheffield57
Yes later✔️
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Love this song still sound good you no.
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This is what's called "brown liquor music". The essence of bluesy r&b.
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He will be missed his music lives on
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Brenda love it
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Sweet timeless this sounds are in my gallery everyday
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BEST music ooooooo yes
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I love u bby i remember when u dedicated this song to me ..soon u will be home n in ur arms forever ����
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Yes they do...
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I ll let u be my man and i ur women Leandro. Mama loves her Pops forever. Im gonna make u want me. I promise u this. Tell me wat should we do. I know wat i want you to do to me. And ill be your sexy Baby forever.
Your Wife
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Great
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1482098294
Geez the love songs!!!!!! Blahhhh
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Real an Love it
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James u r one of the best ,when it came to ole school.dark end of the street is my favorite.
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wow.. i had heard dark end of the street, but not his original, wow!
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hope you find peace at the dark end of the street
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ms.kgonzales
Hmmmm...
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I think he sounds more like Etta James than Etta did in the end.
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can't tell you what this song does for me!
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I like my Otis
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Good song to kick back and get drunk to
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I luv this song! James Carr ,one of my favorite
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Lpve this song...otis redding did this song too..
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My young three bbs love james carr and MANY MANY others-----I need music....
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dotrosyarmst r o n g
yes lord
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Raises the hair on your arms it' s so good!
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I grow up listen to a lot of powerful singers. Mr. Carr happen to one if them . To this day I'll take old school R&B anytime. I believe if u rite now raise your kids to this day. Off of earlier Music their passion each would be so much better. I write poetry and the earlier singers feed my soul. Thanks to the earlier artist. Bam Bam 2013 Engelhard NC
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love the song got m mind messed up
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Wellwellwell !
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Carr was great, too bad we didn't hear more from him before his tragic illnesses.
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I WONDER DID OTIS REMAKE THIS OR DID THIS GUY REMAKE THIS I GOING TO FIND OUT
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What a wonderful and amazing voice!
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I am so surprised that I can`t remember James Carr...I have heard all
of his songs..I don`t remember hearing his name..Happy, to hear his name now....Great songs and now I know a great man.
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ONE OF THE GREATS
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If you culd hear silk being woven, this is what it would sound like
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inky3
probably the greatest soul singer ever
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I wonder why I've never heard of the guy
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Voice that touches the inner emotions of the heart. He is missed.
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right to the heart
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ebastar
I heard this and I thought it was Otis I love my late great they are the power of the music that influnenced soooooo many artist thank you James!
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I have never heard of James Carr, but i like his style so romantic. I like this song. I will buy his CD. ASAP
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this is a real pure soul artist
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sargeantbob4 5
I really enjoy the late greats.
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As good a voice as there ever was, and as sad and mournful a voice as ever could be.
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depression is a b**ch..I don't wish it on anyone
Show more

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