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Song Stories

“2112”

Rush | 1976

When Neil Peart took over as main songwriter for Rush, the Toronto-based prog rockers' songs suddenly took on a more imaginative and cinematic scope. And this was never more evident than on the title track of 2112, which tells the story of a man discovering a guitar during a time in the future when music is forbidden. As Peart explained, "I dreamt up this story of music being invented against a dystopian, totalitarian society." The drummer and lyricist would also admit to being inspired by the writing of Samuel R. Delany and Ayn Rand, specifically the latter's The Fountainhead and Anthem.

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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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