This list of songs is inspired by lists published by radio station KEXP-FM from Seattle in 2010, as well as the latest poll taken in 2021 by Rolling Stone Magazine. For the most part I will faithfully countdown from their lists, starting at Song #500 and going until I reach Song #1. When you see the song title listed as something like: Song #XXX (KEXP)….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. Song XXX (RS) means the song is coming from the Rolling Stone list. If I post the song title as being: Song #xxx (KTOM), it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In any case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, just so everyone is aware, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Here is the story behind today’s song. Enjoy.
RS: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #262: I’ve Been Loving You Too Long by Otis Redding.
Otis Redding definitely rates as being one of the best Soul and R&B singers of all-time. He had a huge hit with “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay”, as well as, “These Arms of Mine”, “Knock on Wood” (with Carla Thomas) and “Try A Little Tenderness”. He was inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, along with winning two Grammy Awards. However, despite the accolades that are generally thrown toward him, Otis Redding had a far different career than most may realize. Here is his story.
Like so many Black musicians in the 1950s, Otis Redding cut his musical teeth singing Gospel songs in Churches. As he began performing on stage, he played The Chitlin’ Circuit, where Black performers were welcome and could feel safe on stage. Even when he began recording songs to be released as real records, the bulk of his work was with Stax Records, who worked with Black musicians. Booker T. and the MGs were the house band at Stax Records and, as such, they routinely filled in as session players for whoever happened to be the singer at the time. So, when Otis Redding recorded his song, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”, it was produced by Steve Cropper and backed by Booker T. and the MGs.
The thing about this was that, even though “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” became Redding’s first hit, he never considered himself a singer for all of the people. In practical reality and, certainly in his mind, he was a Black singer who sang for Black audiences. Consequently, Redding never grew rich because of this song. In fact, when he was booked to perform with other Black performers at a concert to be recorded at The Apollo Theatre in NYC, the cost of the sheet music for his band outweighed the amount he and the band were being paid. They ended up staying at the cheapest, fleabag hotel they could find. Ben E. King even offered to help out financially by covering the cost of the sheet music for them.
The event that brought Otis Redding into the musical spotlight in all of its entirety was when he, along with Booker T. and the MGs appeared at The Monteray Jazz Festival. Commenting afterwards, Booker T. noted, with awe, that it was the group’s best ever performance but, more than that, they were awe-stuck at being so well-received by such a diverse audience which included many headlining musical peers such as Jimi Hendrix.
Not long after breaking through to the mainstream at The Monteray Jazz Festival, Otis Redding recorded a new song called, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”. This song was a departure from the ballad-heavy songs that had characterized his career to that point. Many of the folks at Stax Records felt that it sounded so unlike him, in fact, that recording it would be a mistake. Otis Redding felt otherwise. He stated that he wanted to expand his musical range and felt that this new song was just the vehicle to do that. Three days after recording “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, Otis Redding, alomg with several others, were killed in a small engine airplane crash in Wisconsin. He was 27 years old at the time.
“(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” was released posthumously and became the very first such release to ever achieve #1 status on the Pop Charts. All of his Grammy Awards and inductions to various music Halls of Fame all came after he was dead, as well. Otis Redding was very much a performer whose career was on the rise. There is no telling what wonderful music he may have created had fate not intervened in such a cruel manner. Luckily, we have a list of excellent songs to enjoy and remember him by. Included in that list is his first big hit, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”.
Ladies and Gentlemen, here is the late, great, Mr. Otis Redding, with “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long”. What a soulful voice! Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” by Otis Redding, can be found here.
The link to the official website for Otis Redding, can be found here.
Thanks, as always, to KEXP for playing the greatest songs by the greatest singers and bands of all-time. The link to their wonderful website can be found here.