Oxford’s independent record store, The End of All Music, will host a free listening party for the companion soundtrack to author Robert Gordon’s new book, “Memphis Rent Party,” on Thursday. Following the listening party, Thacker Mountain Radio will feature a living reading by Gordon from his book.
Robert Gordon is not only an author but also a filmmaker. He won an Emmy Award in 2017 for his work on the documentary “Best of Enemies” and is a six-time Grammy nominee. Gordon won a 2011 Grammy for his liner notes on Big Star’s “Keep an Eye on the Sky” box set. Gordon is a Memphis native, a fact that is often incorporated into his works of film and literature.
“Memphis born and raised,” he said. “I drink my whiskey neat.”
Gordon’s sixth and newest book, “Memphis Rent Party,” is a compilation of various stories revolving around Memphis told through different perspectives that capture the uniqueness of the birthplace of rock ‘n’ roll. The main focus of the book is music; it’s about the music that encapsulates the personality of the city of Memphis, whether it’s soul, jazz or blues.
Gordon gained inspiration for this work after studying the Harlem Renaissance and learning about rent parties. Rent parties were basically a way for people to make ends meet when they were short on rent by hosting parties, charging admission and selling booze to partygoers.
“I loved the idea of friends helping friends by having fun together,” Gordon said. “And it occurred to me then, way back, that ‘Rent Party’ would be a great name for a collection of stories.”
Gordon took this idea and connected stories with new text to combine some of his unpublishable pieces into a publishable collection of work. Similar to the erratic bonding of a real Memphis rent party, the book includes different kinds of styles, people, music and experiences.
Released by Fat Possum Records, the book’s soundtrack has an “all over the place” variety that perfectly accompanies the book. The soundtrack features songs from Memphis and Mississippi artists like Alex Chilton, Jerry Lee Lewis, Junior Kimbrough, Jim Dickinson, Charlie Feathers and more.
“This soundtrack, like the Memphis and Mississippi artists it covers, is all over the place,” Gordon said. “There’s blues, jazz, country, rock ‘n’ roll. There’s everything but gospel, but there’s definitely the gospel of rock ‘n’ roll.”
Gordon will be at The End of All Music to meet listeners, music fanatics and Oxford townies and to sign their books and records. The End of All music will be selling the record on limited edition green vinyl.
“We’re big fans of Robert Gordon’s books, and we’re also big fans of Fat Possum Records and we’re big fans of Memphis. So this event seemed like a no brainer,” said David Swider, owner of The End of All Music.
Swider said he encourages Oxonian music fans to attend the free listening party, experience the sounds of Memphis and have the exclusive opportunity to hang out with Gordon in person.
Gordon’s Thacker Mountain Radio appearance will begin at 6 p.m. at Off Square Books and is free to the public. This week’s radio show will also feature a performance from acclaimed singer/songwriter David Olney.
“Square Books is a model bookstore for the nation. Thacker Mountain Radio, too. I’d walk to Oxford to do this,” Gordon said.
This listening party is a one-of-a-kind event featuring a one-of-a-kind author. For music enthusiasts and townies alike, this party is sure to be one for the books.