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Song Stories

“The '59 Sound”

The Gaslight Anthem | 2008

The title track to Gaslight Anthem's 2008 breakthrough album, "The '59 Sound" is a tribute to a dead friend, hooked to the Jersey band's signature Springsteen-goes-hardcore sound. Nostalgia courses through the lyrics, which are stuffed with references to radios and favorite songs, and the title comes from singer Brian Fallon's love for classic rock and soul. "I once built a 1959 Fender Bassman amp – the same kind that Carl Perkins used, that Elvis' guitar player used. Springsteen used one in the younger days," Fallon told Rolling Stone. "So [the title] was a reference to both that amplifier and that music."

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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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