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Smoking Section: Memories of Bonnaroo 2008

Pearl Jam are at work on a new disc, Jeff Ament reunites Green River, and more

Pearl Jam perform during Bonnaroo in Manchester, Tennessee.
Jason Merritt/FilmMagic
July 10, 2008

Ah, so many sexy Bonnaroo memories from '08! Let's start off with a bang, specifically the Royal Bangs, our new favorite rockers, whose late-night set featured tracks from the Knoxville quintet's awesome new album, We Breed Champions. We got a thrill meeting guitar magicians Larry Campbell and Charlie Sexton, who were key members of Bob Dylan's greatest post-Rolling Thunder band from 1999 to 2002. Sexton played with up-and-comer Matt Morris (a singer-songwriter on Justin Timberlake's Tennman Records), and Campbell tore shit up with Levon Helm.

And we've rapped with Ed Vedder before, but it was rad to chat up Mike McCready, who told us that Pearl Jam are crackin' away on a new disc, to be produced by Brendan O'Brien. PJ bassist Jeff Ament updated us on his reunion with Green River at Sub Pop's 20th-anniversary party in July. "We had a couple of practices two months ago, and it was the first time Stone [Gossard] and I had been in a room with those guys in 25 years or so," Ament says. "It was like, 'Yeah, we're grunge!'"

Ament also informed us about an upcoming battle of the bands, on the basketball court. "'Jeff, you better bring your A game, Gramps, 'cause the Jacket's gonna be ballin' on y'all,'" Ament read from an e-mail he'd received from My Morning Jacket's Jim James. "'We're gonna put the hurt on you, dawg!'" The showdown was supposed to take place at last year's Lollapalooza, but the Jacket backed out. "We couldn't make it," says James. Why not? "Um, we had to rehearse with an orchestra."

This story is from the July 10th, 2008 issue of Rolling Stone.

To read the new issue of Rolling Stone online, plus the entire RS archive: Click Here

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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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