Loretta Lynn, Desmond Child Inducted Into Songwriters Hall of Fame

June 20, 2008 12:21 PM ET

While the rest of the show-biz crowd gets its annual ya-ya's out at over-the-top affairs like the Grammys and the Oscars, songwriters celebrate themselves in a comparatively understated (but equally impressive) manner at the yearly Songwriters Hall of Fame inductions. For the 39th songsmiths' shindig, honorees ran the gamut from country queens to pop princes: Desmond Child, Albert Hammond, Loretta Lynn, Alan Menken, John Sebastian were inducted, while Paul Anka, Anne Murray, John Rzeznik and Milt Okun were honored.

Joan Jett presented hitmeister Desmond Child with his award after he opened the show with a medley of blockbusters he penned for others, from Aerosmith's "Dude Looks Like a Lady" to Bon Jovi's "Livin' on a Prayer." When pressed, Child admitted his favorite child is "a song I wrote with Hanson called 'Weird,' because it's about being different, and I grew up poor, I grew up being Latin, I grew up being gay, and now I'm fat!" Lovin' Spoonful leader John Sebastian backed the Naked Brothers Band on his own "Do You Believe in Magic," and offered a light-hearted perspective on the writing process, musing, "The best part about songwriting is that it's something you can do that requires no raw material and creates no waste."

Danny Aiello and former New York Yankee Bernie Williams turned up for Towering Song Award winner "Take Me Out to the Ballgame," John Legend crooned an estrogen-stirring version of Paul Anka's "Put Your Head on My Shoulder" and Natasha Bedingfield performed Menken's "Colors of the Wind." But it was Loretta Lynn who wound up stealing the show with her classic "Coal Miner's Daughter," returning at the crowd's insistence for an unplanned encore of "Don't Come Home A-Drinkin' (With Lovin' on Your Mind)."

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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