Charley Crockett’s journey through country’s past on his album Lil G.L.’s Blue Bonanza continues with his forlorn rendition of “That’s How I Got to Memphis,” the 1969 song written by Country Music Hall of Famer Tom T. Hall. In Crockett’s hands, “That’s How I Got to Memphis” is particularly yearning, as if he’s searching against hope for the love that is just within his reach. The video for the song plays up that notion, casting cult honky-tonk singer James Hand as a wandering musician, ducking in and out of bars along the city’s Beale Street.
“The only reason I ever learned ‘That’s How I Got To Memphis’ is all because of James Hand,” Crockett says in a statement. “I was up for an Ameripolitan Award a couple years back and I went down to one of Dale Watson’s showcases at Blues City on Beale Street. Well ol’ Slim got up on stage with the band and they went in to that old Tom T. Hall number. I think James Hand is the greatest living honky-tonker, and he had me in tears with the way he was singing those lyrics.”
Crockett says he learned Hall’s song that night after hearing Hand perform it and promptly added it to his set list. Now, it appears on Blue Bonanza, aside other classics by George Jones, Ernest Tubb and Danny O’Keefe.
In January, Crockett underwent a major operation to fix a heart abnormality. He’s since returned with a pair of new songs recorded for Bruce Robison’s The Next Waltz Series, “How Low Can You Go” and “River of Sorrow.” Crockett will play Oklahoma on April 18th, part of a tour that runs into the fall.