September 2013

By Wink

Do you like the song (Sitting on) The Dock of The Bay?

Me too.

In my humble opinion, this is one of the 20 best songs of the last 50 years.

This month is the anniversary of the birth of its singer and writer, Otis Redding, born September 9, 1941.

A fiery performer, Redding had recently stolen the show from the bigger name artists at the 1967 Monterey Pop Festival and was feeling very good about himself. He returned to a houseboat is Sausalito and wrote ‘Dock of The Bay.’

Against the wishes of his record label, he broke from his traditional style and tried to create a sound similar to the Beatles ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.’

Co-writer Steve Cropper (of Booker T & the MG’s and Blues Brothers) wrote a ‘fadeout rap’ that Redding was supposed to vocalize, but he whistled instead. No one knows if he forgot the words or just skipped them on purpose, but the whistled ending seems perfect, allowing the song to drift out like the tide…

Recorded only three days before his death, Redding felt this was his best song, and would be a number one hit. How could he know this, since he never had a number one record? Who knows, but it turned out to be prophetic.

It is comforting to know that he had reached a happy point in his life before he died, and of course sweet/sad that his only #1 song reached that level after his death, at age 26, in a plane crash.

Sympathy drives a lot of things, notably, after Ray Charles died his collaboration album won the ‘best album’ Grammy over Green Day’s ‘American Idiot’ (get serious), but I believe ‘Dock of the Bay’ was so good it would have made it to # 1 no matter what….

Happy Birthday Otis, this loneliness won’t leave us alone.

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