Song Stories

“Suzie Q”

Dale Hawkins | 1957

A hypnotic cowbell sets the mood for Dale Hawkins's bluesy strutting rockabilly ode to "Suzie Q," fired by a wild solo by teenaged guitarist James Burton, soon to become one of the top Hollywood rock & roll session musicians. About 10 years later, Creedence Clearwater Revival's version would become their first big hit. "You can really hear that we were havin' a good time cuttin' that record," Hawkins said. "Man, me and the vocal group were actually doin' steps during the guitar breaks!"

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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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