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Song Stories

“Eruption”

Van Halen | 1978

Eddie Van Halen's six-string showcase immediately inspired countless guitarists to decorate their instruments in wild stripe designs, purchase Floyd Rose tremolos and learn the two-hand tapping technique. In 2008, Van Halen told Rolling Stone how he came up with the two-hand tap. "I was watching Jimmy Page going [sings hammering guitar lick], like that, with one hand, in 'Heartbreaker.' I thought, 'I can play like that, and you wouldn't know if I was using this finger or this one." Originally a concert warm-up piece for Eddie, "Eruption" earned a spot on the group's debut album after producer Ted Templeman heard 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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