Song Stories


Notorious B.I.G. | 1994

The late great Christopher Wallace AKA the Notorious B.I.G. was known for putting his gritty street tales to music. But no one expected to hear Biggie – the same man to boast about keeping his "glock by the penis" -- rapping over R&B funk band Mtume's 1982 "Juicy Fruit." Unfortunately, Pete Rock was left with a bad taste in his mouth the first time he heard the final version of the rags to riches song. "I did the original version, didn't get credit for it. They came to my house, heard the beat going on the drum machine… next thing you know it comes out," Pete Rock revealed years later.

Song Stories Main Next

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.”

More Song Stories entries »