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Producer Arif Mardin Dead at 74

June 26, 2006 2:23 PM ET

We just got word that Arif Mardin — the Atlantic Records producer and arranger who worked with artists including the Young Rascals, Dusty Springfield, Aretha Franklin, the Bee-Gees, David Bowie and Norah Jones — died in New York yesterday of prostate cancer. He was 74. Mardin was the arranger of Aretha's classic Lady Soul, among other records; in recent years he was best known for producing Jones' 2003 smash Come Away With Me.

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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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