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Song Stories

“Is It True”

Brenda Lee | 1964

As the British Invasion reached its peak in 1964, Brenda Lee went from Nashville to London to record one of her hardest-rocking hits, her perky vocal backed by a stuttering, squalling guitar. That guitar was played by session musician Jimmy Page, yet to skyrocket to fame with first the Yardbirds and then Led Zeppelin. "She said to me, 'I've come here to make a record with the British sound,'" remembered producer Mickie Most. "She felt she wouldn't get the same sound in Nashville because they're only just catching up on the British beat group sound of about six months ago."

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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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