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Song Stories

“Seven and Seven Is”

Love | 1966

Driven by ominous fuzz chord riffs and nonstop drum rolls, Arthur Lee's surrealistic rant "Seven and Seven Is" was capped off by an atomic explosion, a brief country blues tag ending the song like dust settling over a demolished building. More than 30 takes were recorded, mainly because the song's drum part was so exhausting that Lee and Love drummer Snoopy Pfisterer had to take turns playing it. "It was about a lady named Anita," disclosed Lee. "She's born on the seventh, and I'm born on the seventh, and that's 'seven and seven is.'"

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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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