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Song Stories

“Don't Get Me Wrong”

The Pretenders | 1986

A lively, throbbing, insistent beat paced Chrissie Hynde's declaration of the thrilling sensations she felt when in someone's proximity, glowing interwoven guitar and keyboard riffs mirroring her mood. While it seemed on the surface to be a love song, if a somewhat indirect one, Hynde said that she had tennis star John McEnroe in mind when she wrote it. "He was always getting in trouble in those days, but was such a nice guy when you got to know him," she reflected. "I imagined him singing it."

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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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