.

Song Stories

“Keep On Pushing”

The Impressions | 1964

Inspirational to both Bob Marley, who heard it in Jamaica, and Bob Dylan, who included the album from which it sprang on the cover of his own Bringing It All Back Home, Curtis Mayfield drew his own inspiration for his civil-rights-era soul song from church music. "All I needed to do was change 'God gave me strength...' to 'I’ve got my strength.' Nothing else needed to be changed," he said. At the 2004 Democratic National Convention, Mayfield's song was the walk-on music for the speech by then-Sen. Barack Obama, who brought the theme of change full circle with his presidential victory in 2008.

prev
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 »
www.expandtheroom.com