“We didn’t go in there bullcrapping around. We meant business.” – Wilson Pickett
Pop quiz: Name the top three greats of sixties soul.
If you answer James Brown, Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding, you won’t get much of an argument from anyone.
But who comes next on the list?
Dan Penn is far from famous, but most everyone – at least most everyone of a certain age – knows his work. Penn produced the Box Tops’ immortal “The Letter” and co-wrote a clutch of stone soul classics (“Dark End of the Street,” “Do Right Woman,” “I’m Your Puppet,” “Cry Like A Baby,” “Sweet Inspiration,” “You Left the Water Running”) covered by a lengthy list of artists including Aretha Franklin, Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Otis Redding, Janis Joplin, Solomon Burke, Dolly Parton, Etta James, Ry Cooder, Barbra Streisand, Linda Ronstadt, the Flying Burrito Brothers and on and on; his list of credits on All Music Guide runs to 1,262 entries and no doubt there’s plenty missing.
However much a behind-the-scenes player, Penn is a legend among one subset of music aficionados: Southern soul fans.