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Song Stories

“Jessie's Girl”

Rick Springfield | 1981

Rick Springfield manager Joe Gottfried made a deal with producer Keith Olsen: If Olsen produced two of Springfield's songs, Gottfried would build him a studio. Once the deal was made, Springfield -- who had turned to acting in soap operas as his musical career faltered -- gave Olsen several demos, and one song stood out. "I never really thought of it as a single," said Springfield. "I thought there were better songs on the album, actually." Though the song is about a guy who falls for his best friend's woman, in real life, "Jessie" was a fellow art class student Springfield didn't know that well.

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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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