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Song Stories

“Flagpole Sitta”

Harvey Danger | 1998

"If I died today and there was an obituary about me, it would run in the local paper and it would say that I was the author of that song," Harvey Danger frontman Sean Nelson said about the inescapable ubiquity of "Flagpole Sitta," especially in movies and TV shows. "I'm okay with it, but I definitely don't view it as an accomplishment because I view it as a strange fluke, and the fluke has nothing to do how good the song is. That song, for me, has transcended quality; it's just bizarre and perverse. What I meant when I wrote the words and melody doesn't matter at all anymore."

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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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