Mayfield should be most famous as the writer of the massive Ray Charles hit song, “Hit the Road Jack,” but that song isn’t on Poet of the Blues. Charles signed him to Tangerine Records, where he wrote other hits for Ray, and this song, which was made a hit by Elvis Presley in 1970, on his Back in Memphis elpee.
I didn’t know about this song until today, since it also is not on Poet of the Blues, and I have to say that if I’d only heard the Presley version I would probably wouldn’t have wondered about who wrote the song. It sounds like one of those big star blues jams, fun and all, but without a signature.
But signature is what Percy Mayfield had, always, and especially when he sang. Here’s his version of Stranger in My Own Home Town, which is deeply satisfying, but makes me want to hear Jerry Lee Lewis’s version, too.