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Song Stories

“Lonely Teardrops”

Jackie Wilson | 1958

If Jackie Wilson had known how prophetic the lyrics to "Lonely Teardrops" would be, he may have decided to pass on the song altogether. Co-written by Berry Gordy, who would later start the Motown record label, this song became Wilson's first Number One R&B single. But in an odd twist of fate, Wilson was singing this song at a casino in 1975, and right after he sang the lines "My heart is crying," the singer collapsed on stage from a heart attack and fell into a coma, which persisted until he passed away nine years later.

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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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