Music blog by Ruddy Adam.
In Honor of the Ultra-Talented Otis Redding
I stand by the view that I and several others have had for years, that Otis Redding was the most talented of all the black entertainers who came out of the `50s and `60s, and thereafter.
Otis had it all. He danced. He was an Elvis-Janis-type live entertainer. He could sing anything. He wrote most of his songs himself. He composed them. He produced most of them. And Otis had the type of soul that just came oozing out of his music.
The “Soul Man” himself, James Brown, defined soul as “something that’s deep down in you that comes out in your music.” Certainly that is true of Otis Redding, who had in his repertoire five of the all-time great songs: “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay (1968)”; “Try A Little Tenderness” (1966); “I’ve Been Lovin’ You Too Long” (1965); “Pain in My Heart” (1963); and “These Arms of Mine” (1962).
In the year of his death, the British music newspaper “Melody Maker” voted him the Top Vocalist of 1967,” beating out a string of wins by Otis’ hero, Elvis Pressley. You hear Elvis in Otis, and you can see it in him when he’s on stage.
A musical perfectionist, Otis chose musicians that could play up to his high standards, and worked them to death practicing new songs he had written. In turn, he worked himself to death over his own writings, letting other writers and musicians read them over, after which he would beat them down to what he considered perfection. The result was pretty much perfection.
Otis did not write “These Arms of Mine”; but he recomposed it and changed it into one of the all-time great songs.
Here, blues musician Tab Benoit does a rendition of “These Arms of Mine,” and adds a harmonica and a saxophone, which truly does a lot for the song. Tab Benoit is a Louisiana boy who fell in love with the Delta Blues sound, and you hear that geechy influence in all his music, which means you’ll get the French Harp every so often, as you do here.
He does a very worthwhile honor to one of Otis’ finest songs.
“These Arms of Mine,” by Tab Benoit Live & Soulful!
This is what James Brown meant when he defined soul. You hear it. You know it. You feel it. When Otis sings “nobody knows what I feel inside,” well, you certainly know how he feels when you hear him sing it.
As you will notice, Otis was singing Blues and publishing it as Rock & Roll. Listeners loved Otis’ Blues—but it would never have made it to the radio, nor would they have bought it if it had been called “Blues.”
Peoples’ is odd creatures, or as our dear Iris says, “Peoples is crazy.”
“I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” Otis Redding, Studio Version
Here is one of Otis’ best songs sung live. You can see how he could move a crowd, and notice that classical movement in this song, which certainly makes it what it is.
“Try A Little Tenderness” Otis, 1967, Live & Soulful!
Otis wound up live in one of his more passionate songs.
“I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” Otis, Live & Super Soulful!