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Song Stories

“IRM”

Charlotte Gainsbourg | 2009

Fashioned to mimic the sound of a magnetic resonance imaging or MRI, "IRM" (the French designation for the brain scan) grew out of Gainsbourg’s love of the sound of the clickety-clack of medical machinery. The IRM album project also marked the fulfillment of two goals for the singer: to document a traumatic experience, and to record an album with Beck. Though her co-creator and producer didn’t necessarily know the details of her water-skiing accident and resulting cerebral hemorrhage (which lead to the IRM of the song's title), he somehow knew how to handle the material. "Beck had a way of guessing what I was thinking and feeling without me telling him," said Gainsbourg. "We never discussed these things explicitly."

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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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