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Song Stories

“The Beast”

Laura Marling | 2011

Folk artist Laura Marling creates a sprawling, poetic tune that employs foreboding lyrics and the fuzz of a distorted guitar to allude to a nebulous beast character who lurks throughout her album, A Creature I Don't Know. "At some point it's me, at some points it's someone else, and at some points it's not even a thing--it's like a force," Marling said. "The Beast" is accentuated by guitar, which takes on a life of its own: "The electric guitar sound is like a character in the song, almost as important as the lyrics," Marling noted.

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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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