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Song Stories

“History Lesson — Part II”

The Minutemen | 1984

The Minutemen were a tightly knit trio, but the relationship between guitarist D. Boon and bassist Mike Watt goes back to their childhood growing up in the blue-collar California town of San Pedro. This nostalgic song's narrative (sung by Boon but written by Watt) details the duo's friendship and coming of age as music lovers and musicians. "I wrote that song to humanize us," Watt later recalled. "People thought we were spacemen, but we were just Pedro corndogs – our band could be your life! You could be us, this could be you."

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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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