Sunday, September 9, 2012

Happy Birthday, Otis Redding!

Um, can I have that shirt?
In my life, I’ve had (and then eventually abandoned somewhere in cyberspace) about five different blogs. I’ve written essays about N.W.A and Public Enemy (circa Myspace and my gangster rap phase) and I’ve posted melodramatic poetry loaded with trying-too-hard imagery (circa heartbreak junior year in college.) Throughout the years and writing styles and music preferences, each blog had one thing in common: I always wrote some kind of essay/love letter/paragraph/haiku/sentence/fan fiction about Otis Redding.

And it’s happening again.

To celebrate Big O’s birthday today, I thought I’d count down my top five favorite Otis songs. Please understand that these may change tomorrow, so if you try to hold me to them I will laugh arrogantly in your face. And we all know how emotionally damaging and confusing an arrogant laugh can be.

Number Five

“Down in the Valley”

Album: Otis Blue/Otis Redding Sings Soul

Why I love it: When I hear this song, I see cool people dancing. It’s just a rhythmically interesting tune that causes uncontrollable head nodding and hip swaying.

Number Four

“Hey Hey Baby”

Album: Pain In My Heart

Why I love it: This is such a catchy little country-esque song. I just love the twang in the melody and how appropriate Otis’ raw voice is over the instrumentals. Again, definitely dance-worthy.


Number Three

“Tennessee Waltz”

Album: Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul

Why I love it: I am instinctively drawn to anything with “Tennessee” in the name and I blame this on innumerable summers spent there as a child. It’s caused the state to become this idealistic wonderland, existing in my mind as a naturally pretty and familiar place filled with old family photo albums, creeks in the backyard and lightning bugs. And I can hear this song playing while people dance barefoot somewhere in a kitchen that smells like coffee and cinnamon.

Number Two

“Cigarettes and Coffee”

Album: The Soul Album

Why I love it: FAVORITE. I just had to get the all-caps out of my system. Wonderful song. It’s so simple and not at all overly sentimental, but I think that’s why it hits my heart the way it does. It’s a love song about how much he enjoys sitting there with her, drinking coffee and talking and smoking until early in the morning. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nice to be told you’re beautiful, but it’s even better when a guy just enjoys being around you.

Number One

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Album: Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul

Why I love it: This is the Otis Redding song that made me want to know more about him. Thanks to a socially awkward adolescence that prominently featured an interest in 80s teen movies, I heard this during the forever amazing Duckie dance scene from “Pretty in Pink.” I actually remember sitting there watching the credits with a pen and paper, waiting for the list of music in the film. Who knew John Hughes would introduce me to the musical love of my life? But, then again, I guess John Hughes kind of specialized in teenage love. Also, to this day, Jon Cryer is Duckie--he will never be a sitcom star to me. You hear that CBS? NEVER.


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