The Dark End of the Street is Surprisingly Crowded

Everyone’s a cheater.

That’s one possible conclusion to make when you observe that “Dark End of the Street” has been covered so frequently. Another: everybody likes to pretend to be sometimes. The song, evidently written by two soul music hacks during a break from a card game, is a rare celebration of elicit relationships and is just so perfect it’s a little weird.

It’s an easy melody to sing, but it’s a hard emotion to convey. It’s like lyrical guilt, romance shot through with regret and despair; the song hits maybe it’s highest peaks with the phrases “It’s a sin and we know it’s wrong” and “they’re going to find us someday.”

Maybe it’s something about human nature. Sometimes we want to act like we have something to hide even when we don’t. And very often, we very much have something to hide.

Courtney Love (w/an assist by Ryan Adams)

Cat Power has a sexy, sleepy take.

Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner’s version crushes it.

Anybody out there know if Dolly actually had an affair with Wagoner? All signs in this performance point to yes, obviously.

Gram Parson and his Flying Burrito Brothers

Love that guitar break and the call and response “you and me” outro.

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