Nobody weaves working peoples’ stories into song with as much empathy and care as Don “Doop” Duprie, a fireman from the industrial town of River Rouge, Mich. “The Corridor,” the title track off his 2016 album, is both an elegy for the eponymous neighborhood in central Detroit where the song takes place (a place whose gritty beauty and alcoholic splendor has been supplanted by the construction of a new Red Wings arena), as well as a character study with tragic dimensions.
Narrated from the point of view of a sex worker navigating the South Cass Corridor, the song offers a novelistic portrait of lives on the edge of disaster, while also affirming the necessity of community during threadbare times. Listening to this track is like taking a master class in American songwriting. To vividly evoke setting, character, and social context in the space of a three-minute song is no small feat. Doop achieves this effortlessly time and again. “The Corridor” is an enviably well-wrought song by one of America’s truly essential voices.
For more Cal Freeman on the wholly underrated Don Duprie, go to the Museum of Americana here.