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Song Stories

“Stairway to Heaven”

Led Zeppelin | 1971

Despite its impossible-to-decipher lyrical meaning ("a bustle in your hedgerow"?) and it never being issued as a single, when you think "Bic-igniting stadium anthem," Led Zeppelin's "Stairway to Heaven" immediately comes to mind. "I thought 'Stairway' crystallized the essence of the band," Jimmy Page told Rolling Stone in 1975. "It had everything there and showed the band at its best…as a band, as a unit." The song would come under fire during the early 1980s however, when it was (erroneously) accused of containing satanic messages…when played backward.

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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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