Saturday, January 12, 2013

Saturday afternoon tunes, part 1: I left my home in Georgia

Who would have thought that the sort of narrow song-theme demographic niche “Moved from Georgia to California, But It Didn't Work Out” would produce not one but two* R&B classics?

The Wall Street Journal (yes, that Wall Street Journal -- go figure, huh?) marked the release of Otis Redding's “Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay” this week in 1967 with an interesting article about the production of the song. I knew some of the story, but clearly not all: the close encounter with Neil Young, the seagulls, the open E-chord, or why the ships were rolling. And why the whistling. Listening to the song after reading Booker T. talk about where the piano was in the studio, relative to Redding, and why, and what difference it made, makes this a new song. Good story.

If your browser won't display the embedded version, click here.

The sad part of the story, of course, is that Redding was already dead before even the final mix a few days later, to say nothing of the release (or the Grammys or the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction that were to come). But if you're curious, here's the earlier take that the WSJ article mentions. Stripped down and powerful. (But, as legendary guitarist Steve Cropper had to admit, real seagulls make all the difference.)

*This is the other one. But you knew that.

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