Too bad Memphis Minnie’s dead; the next few weeks would have provided plenty of songwriting inspiration

In 1927, the Mississippi River flooded and was 60 miles wide south of Memphis. 14% of Arkansas was under water at one point. It prompted Memphis Minnie to write the song “When the Levee Breaks,” made famous 43 years later when Led Zeppelin covered it.

If Minnie were still with us, the next couple of weeks would likely have provided her with a lot of songwriting inspiration. Riverside Drive wasn’t around in 1927, but ten years later, it was under water in the 1937 Mississippi River flood. Early next month, the river is predicted to experience the worst flood since 1937.

Music Fest will not be affected, but this is not good news for BBQ Fest and possibly Sunset Symphony.

Fast facts:

  • Memphis in May’s electric bunkers are at 41.7 feet. A crest above that level could cause the electrical system to have to be pulled, leaving BBQ Fest teams to rely on generator power.
  • Current forecast is for the river to crest at 44 feet on May 8, but that number is expected to be revised upward tonight. May 7 is the beginning of load-in and build for BBQ teams.
  • Record river stage was 48.7 feet in 1937.
  • 49 feet and Tom Lee Park would become part of the mighty Mississippi.
  • The river would have to reach 56 feet to threaten homes on Mud Island.
  • For those who don’t live in Memphis who are worried my neighborhood could be flooded, don’t. The Downtown Memphis core sits on a high bluff. Front Street and points east are safe.

Lots more information in these articles about the rising river: