After talking about Sam
Solomon Burke, here’s another Soul giant. Otis Redding was one of the
pioneers of Soul music and was truly amazing. He had a signature raspy voice
and amazing ability to convey raw emotion. There are three words that apply
perfectly to what Otis was all about: Passion, Energy and Emotion. He’s
considered to be one of the greatest singers of all time and his singing style
influenced many singers. To name only a few - Al Green, Joe Cocker, Bill
Withers, Janis Joplin, Van Morrison and many others. In fact he’s number 8 on
Rolling Stone Magazine’s Top 100
Singers of all time. He was also highly respected
by The Rolling Stones, who covered his That’s How Strong My Love
Is and Pain In My
Heart and in return he covered
their (I Can’t Get No)
Satisfaction. So anyway, if you
know who he was, you know exactly what I’m talking about and if you don’t,
then please, read on, because you’re missing out.
Otis Redding’s first big hit was These Arms Of Mine but the hits really started flying about three years later, when he recorded stuff like Mr Pitiful, I’ve Been Loving You Too Long, I Can’t Turn You Loose, Satisfaction, Respect (out of which Aretha Franklin later made a huge hit), Shake and others. He mostly sang just ballads and party tunes and I’m not a big fan of the latter. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it’s all great stuff, this is just me being very picky. What I don’t like about those tunes (like Shake, Hard To Handle…) is that they sound quite simple, they’re done in the same brassy style every time, so after a while it all sounds a bit repetitive. It wasn’t like this by chance of course, it was simply because Otis really appreciated the beauty in simplicity. On the other hand, I’m crazy about his ballads. Songs like Pain In My Heart, Try A Little Tenderness, Amen and others are just too good to pass on. To me, songs like these showcase his singing and his abilities to convey emotions powerfully. Listen to Pain in My Heart and listen to how he sings ‘Love me’ or ‘Come back’. It’s so compelling.
In 1967, he recorded (Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay. At the time he was already very successful and he was already considered to be a great singer, musician and a song-writer but this song took all of that to a whole new level. It was a breakthrough for him as a musician and it pointed to new heights that his music might go to. But, just days after it was recorded, one of the biggest tragedies in the music history happened when he died in a plane crash. He was 26. I’ll leave you with the song and the enticing question “What if”.
P.S. I wrote this post after a friend requested it. If anyone else has any requests, I would love to hear from you!