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Song Stories

“I'm Your Puppet”

James & Bobby Purify | 1966

Dan Penn originally recorded and released this song, composed with his songwriting partner Spooner Oldham, as "The Puppet," and it tanked. When Oldham subsequently brought the Purify Brothers (who were actually cousins James Purify and Bobby Dickey) to FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, to cut some sides, they picked "The Puppet" out of the demo pile but mistakenly sang the refrain as "I'm your puppet." Penn initially dismissed the track as a Sam & Dave rip-off but agreed to release it as a single anyway. "When it came out and became a hit, I loved it," the writer and producer laughingly admitted. "It was easy to get on board later."

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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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