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Song Stories

“Just Out of Reach”

Solomon Burke | 1961

Although Solomon Burke is regarded as a soul legend, his early-1960s hit "Just Out of Reach" was a plaintive country lament, his frustrated longing heightened by melodramatic female backup singers and a brief spoken section. The song came to the attention of Atlantic Records producer Jerry Wexler through Billboard magazine editor Paul Ackerman, who'd also recommended Atlantic sign Burke. "I gave [Burke] that song, 'Just Out of Reach,' at the first session," said Wexler. "So Paul Ackerman was responsible for our getting both Solomon Burke and the song that made him."

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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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