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Song Stories

“The Past Is a Grotesque Animal”

Of Montreal | 2007

During the recording of Of Montreal’s eighth album, Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?, Kevin Barnes was going through a difficult time. "On a creative level, my life was going great," the songwriter told Rolling Stone, "but on a personal level, it was totally falling apart." Epic 12-minute track "The Past is a Grotesque Animal" is the centerpiece and turning point of the album, on which Barnes embodies his alter ego, Georgie Fruit. "I'm not suffering from split personality or anything," he said, of the muliple personae on the record. "This just gives me an opportunity to write from a different perspective."

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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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