Photographer's Note

Just south of Tennessee is a little city called Muscle Shoals. Tucked into the northwestern corner of Alabama, this city of just over 12,000 holds a very special place in American music history. For whatever reason - quirks of fate, history and geography - it became the biggest name in soul music, with recording studios that helped to define the genre.

FAME Recording Studios is tucked away in a row of strip malls, next to a pharmacy and across the street from an auto parts store. Without fanfare, looking just as it did during its late 1960s heyday, FAME is still an active recording studio. 50 years ago, however, it was part of the center of the soul world. Legendary artists like Aretha Franklin, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Candi Staton and others recorded their work in this very building.

We almost missed it, driving down Jackson Highway through the center of town. We didn't have time for a tour, and really all that could be done was a quick stop for a photo. With Nashville behind us and the great city of Memphis ahead, this one recording studio was the odd man out on our trip. Still, so much incredible music was recorded on that very spot, and in the surrounding town. As Wilson Pickett sang in his 1966 hit - recorded at FAME - Muscle Shoals really was the Land of 1,000 Dances.

"Land of 1,000 Dances", Wilson Pickett, 1966

Got to know how to pony
Like Bony Maronie
Mash potato, do the alligator
Put your hand on your hips, yeah
Let your backbone slip
Do the Watusi
Like my little Lucy
Hey! Uh!

Na na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na
I need somebody to help me say it one time
(Na na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na)

Wow! Uh! You know I feel alright! Huh! I feel pretty good y'all
Uh! Huh!
Na na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na
Come on y'all, let's say it one more time
(Na na-na-na-na na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na na-na-na-na)

Playing, it is a habit
With long tall Sally
Twistin' with Lucy
Doin' the Watusi
Roll over on your back
I like it like that
Do that Jerk-uh
Watch me work y'all
Ow! Do it!
Wow! Do it!
Just watch me do it

Aah help me

Larger version on Flickr, here.

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Additional Photos by Andrew Lipsett (ACL1978) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 884 W: 75 N: 1695] (7511)
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