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Song Stories

“We Will Rock You”

Queen | 1977

After a frenzied Queen gig on May 29, 1977 at New Bingley Hall in Stafford, England, guitarist Brian May was inspired to pen an anthem about rocking out at a concert. "I think I'd gone to sleep thinking, 'Well, what can an audience do?' They're all crammed in there, they can't do much – but they can stamp their feet, clap their hands, and they can sing. So I woke up with 'We Will Rock You' in my head." Queen would often perform the song twice at concerts – as a sped-up set-opener, and later with the better-known arrangement.

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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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