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Song Stories

“Bang the Drum All Day”

Todd Rundgren | 1982

This ode to carefree skin pounding was initially only a minor hit. But it later became a rock staple when radio stations across the country began playing its popular refrain -- "I don't want to work, I want to bang on the drum all day" -- on Friday afternoons to get listeners hyped about the weekend. "It's always good to be somewhere in the public consciousness," Rundgren said of the song's second wind. "You've done something that very few people have accomplished, which is to find a place in the culture, more or less, that transcended anything that you originally tried to accomplish."

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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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