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Song Stories

“Runaway”

Del Shannon | 1961

"Runaway" was written during an informal recording session at Detroit's Hi-Lo Club. "I hit a series of chords, and Del said, 'Let's build something,'" recalled keyboardist and co-writer Max Crook. "He was humming a melody, and I put that bridge in" -- the song's notoriously weird keyboard break, played on an electronic keyboard that Crook invented, which he named the Musitron. Shannon wrote lyrics the next day at his day job in a carpet store. Sadly, he killed himself in 1990, despite the fact that he was working on a new album with Tom Petty and Jeff Lynne, and was also rumored to be joining the pair in the Traveling Wilburys as the late Roy Orbison's replacement.

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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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