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Song Stories

“All Along the Watchtower”

The Jimi Hendrix Experience | 1968

Jimi Hendrix got hold of Bob Dylan's early John Wesley Harding tapes and in late 1967 recorded a version of "All Along the Watchtower" with the Experience in London. Dissatisfied with that first development, Hendrix brought those tapes with him to New York in early 1968 when he began work on Electric Ladyland. Eddie Kramer, Hendrix's engineer at the time, told Rolling Stone that Hendrix "was still looked upon by his basically white audience as the mammoth black guitar hero. There was a constant fight within him to expand himself." Hendrix's successful take on Dylan's work has long been recognized by the songwriter. "I liked Jimi Hendrix's record of this and ever since he died I've been doing it that way," Dylan wrote in the liner notes to his Biograph box set. "Strange how when I sing it, I always feel it's a tribute to him in some kind of way."

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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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