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Song Stories

“You Keep Me Hangin' On”

The Supremes | 1966

Yet another Holland-Dozier-Holland hit single with Motown, "You Keep Me Hangin' On" was The Supremes eighth song to top the pop charts. It was recorded at Motown's Hitsville studio over the course of eight sessions before the label deemed it ready for release. Its opening stuttering guitar figure was actually inspired by Morse code. "'You Keep Me Hanging On' was about a girl complaining about the guys fooling around and we knew all about that because that was what we did," Lamont Dozier said. "We considered ourselves to be playboys."

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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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