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Song Stories

“Back in Black”

AC/DC | 1980

When Bon Scott died on February 19, 1980, some assumed AC/DC were done for. But with new singer Brian Johnson in tow, the hard-rockin' Aussies roared back with the album Back in Black, aong with an anthem of the same name. "I just wrote what came into my head, which at the time seemed like mumbo jumbo," explained Johnson. "'Nine lives. Cats eyes. Abusing every one of them and running wild.' The boys got it, though. They saw Bon's life in that lyric." At last count, the Back in Black full-length is the third-highest-selling album ever, at 49 million copies worldwide -- behind only Michael Jackson’s Thriller and Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon.

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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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