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Song Stories

“One of Us”

Joan Osborne | 1995

When Eric Bazilian's fiancée asked him how songs were written, the Hooters singer produced a 4-track demo of a guitar riff that had been in his head. When she asked for words, he came up with lyrics that wondered "What if God was one of us/Just a slob like one of us/Just a stranger on the bus." The next day, he took it to Joan Osborne, who adopted it for her in-progress album. "Some people are pissed off that I would sing a song that represents God as anything remotely human," she told Rolling Stone.

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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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