The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Memphis in June

Memphis in June

#108 / Aug. 12 Podcast

“Memphis in June” was written by Hoagy Carmichael and Paul Francis Webster for the 1945 George Raft movie “Johnny Angel.” Carmichael himself, playing a character named "Celestial O'Brien,” performed the tune in the film, then revisited it on several subsequent recordings.

A Musicians’ Favorite

While it isn’t one of the better known Carmichael compositions, “Memphis in June” is a particular favorite among musicians, covered 40 times over the years in various genres and formats.

For instance, 16 years after the movie, Nina Simone delivered perhaps the definitive version of the song. (Of course, almost any song Simone approached was definitively addressed). Simone's jazzy 1961 reading is tinged with a bluer quality that puts the emphasis on Memphis.

A half century later, Annie Lennox brought a wonderful interpretation of the composition to her 2014 “Nostalgia” album, a reading full of warmth and feeling that some think are missing from Hoagy’s 1945 original.

Meanwhile, Bob Dylan gave a hearty shout-out to song on his 1985 “Empire Burlesque” album. Remember how Bob’s song “Tight Connection To My Heart” drew this word picture?

Well, they're not showing any lights tonight
And there's no moon.
There's just a hot-blooded singer
Singing "Memphis in June.”

Our Take on the Tune

Back in the days when we would ride on — and occasionally even perform on — the good ol’ Delta Queen steamboat, it often meant a reunion with a dear friend, the boat’s band leader, legendary New Orleans cornetist Connie Jones.

We learned “Memphis in June” from Connie. On his album, it was an instrumental, but whenever we’d ask for it on board the boat, Connie would sing it.

From a recent rehearsal, this is The Flood’s latest take on the tune, conjuring up memories of sunny days up in The Delta Queen’s Texas Lounge, seeing Connie, eyes closed and grinning as he purred those sweet lyrics. Here then, in memory of Connie Jones, is Hoagy’s love song to summer.

The 1937 Flood Watch
The 1937 Flood Watch Podcast
Each week The 1937 Flood, West Virginia's most eclectic string band, offers a free tune from a recent rehearsal, show or jam session. Music styles range from blues and jazz to folk, hokum, ballad and old-time. All the podcasts, dating back to 2008, are archived on our website; you and use the archive for free at: