Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Best Band Ever*

*according to me, at this moment, subject to change.
I really thought that would take longer today, but thank goodness for small mercies.

Anyway I'm back, and starting the day off far later than normal- it's kind of weird. Last night as I was fretting, as I usual do on Monday nights, about this very thing I decided that today I would try to profile someone incredibly different from (especially last week's) most of the bands that I've allowed "this honor"(i.e. he's black) but it was firmly settled this morning when I started singing one of his songs in an attempt to remember a(n incredibly bizarre) dream. And so Otis Redding is the Best Band Ever*

The firs time I heard an Otis Redding song I didn't know it was an Otis song, and even if I did it wouldn't have registered because I had no idea who it was. I was maybe 10 and the song was Hard to Handle, (as covered) by the Black Crowes. I always liked that song but always assumed they had written it, whenever my thoughts dwelt on the subject, which was rare if ever. I guess it was around senior year in high school when I was getting more into music and was digging the Sixties that I first "got" (Sittin' On) the Dock of the Bay (a song that perfectly sums up any young adult's lifes and worries and thoughts). It was then that I actually researched Otis Redding and started listening to his other stuff and I think I can honestly say that I didn't understand why they called it "soul" music until I heard him. I know it sounds kind of cheesy but when he's singing "I've Been Loving You Too Long, I can't stop now"
(in Monterey)
it reaches into my soul and makes me remember anyone I've ever felt that way about, when he's singing about a "Pain in My Heart" just not letting him be, somehow I get that same pain (just listen to the song- don't watch the video)

His songs weren't purely about lust, which was (and is) what a lot of soul music seems to be about. The longing in his voice, ah it's so heartbreaking it's fucking magical.
and his version of Satisfaction, if not better than the Stones' original is damn close

That a black boy from Georgia could move hippie kids and get them to move like that is astounding.
Out of all those songs though I think the most heartbreaking is "I've Got Dreams to Remember"

I know you said he was just a friend
But I saw him kiss you again and again
These eyes of mine they don't fool me
Why did he hold you so tenderly?
I've got dreams
Dreams to remember
I've got dreams
Dreams to remember"
Almost like a plea to if you have take away everything else and the reality, to at least leave him those dreams. It's all he has left
During AmeriCorps it amused me to no end that the feminist anthem Respect was written and originally recorded by a man- seemed kind of ironic. Otis' version is more " i'm a man working hard for you and all I want is respect"

I'm not sure if I like it better than Aretha's but that's a wonderful thing about music how words and melodies can be reinterpreted in thousands of ways simply by modifying the rhythym or phrasing or a change in key.
I really think my absolute favorite Otis Redding song (which is hard because he is one of my 10 core artists who I can't travel without and from who I kind of branch out) is Try A Little Tenderness. It really is such a universal message (and one that I maybe just made up) but one that is incredibly simple to live by and follow, just try a little tenderness in your dealings with others, just a little compassion would make this world so much better. But even without that message that musical buildup until it just explodes... can't be touched

He was such an amazing talent, it's always really tragic when the amazing ones die. (40 years ago this december) And I didn't realize he was so young when it happened. Though he really looked and seemed older he was only 26 (poor guy didn't even make it into the 27 Club.) Seriously if I was a musician back then you would not be able to put me on a small plane, especially in the winter (though to be honest you couldn't get me to do that now). (Sitting on) the Dock of the Bay was actually released after his death, which kind of adds to the mystique. And so for all of these reasons Otis Redding is the Best Band Ever*

requiescat in pace

Here are some goodies :

Try a Little Tenderness (download)
I've Got Dreams to Remember (download)
I've Been Loving You Too Long (download)
Pain in My Heart (download)
These Arms of Mine (download)
(Sittin' On) The Dock of The Bay (download)
Satisfaction (download)
Hard to Handle (download)
Respect (download)
Cigarettes & Coffee (download) [the breakfast of champions]

Buy the Very Best of Otis Redding here.

(and I must say it is a really weird feeling to check your visitor counter and see that in about 12 hours you had almost twice as many visitors as you did in the previous 4 months, but of course grazie and welcome and I hope I haven't scared y'all of yet)

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