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Song Stories

“Dear Mr. Fantasy”

Traffic | 1967

Steve Winwood had already had hits with the Spencer Davis Group and with Traffic's first album, but this title track from the group's follow-up is a career highlight, even though it wasn't even released as a single. The idea for the song first came about about when drummer Jim Capaldi was sketching out ideas for an album cover for the first album that had a Stature of Liberty-like figure and a short poem he composed, but he lost interest. The band found the poem and took over from there. "Jim flaked out and Chris [Wood] and I stayed up all night and we got the thing together," Steve Winwood said.

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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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