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(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay — why Otis Redding’s biggest hit wasn’t actually a soul song
October 6, 2019 | | by Dan Einav.

“This is my first million seller,” announced Otis Redding to nervous-looking studio bosses in early December 1967. He was referring to his upcoming record, “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay”, which would indeed prove to be his first seven-figure release, eventually selling several times that amount. It would also be the last song he ever worked on. Two days after his second recording session on this breezy new ballad, he was dead — killed in a light-aircraft crash.

Executives at Atlantic Records cynically requested that a new song be released immediately. Redding’s collaborator and studio guitarist, and the song’s co-writer, Steve Cropper, was forced to set aside his grief and transform the rough cuts of “The Dock of the Bay” into a coherent track in just 24 hours. The result was an unassuming yet near-perfect composition that would serve as a fitting legacy for one of soul’s greatest talents.

But “The Dock of the Bay” wasn’t really a soul song in the conventional sense. In the summer of 1967, Redding immersed himself in The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper and was inspired by the band’s devotion to stress-testing the limits of popular music. “It’s time for me to change my music,” said Redding, as his wife and employers voiced concerns about his “poppy” new direction which took him away from his roots in soul and R&B.

That autumn Redding was recovering after a punishing touring schedule on a houseboat in Sausalito, across the bay from San Francisco, owned by promoter Bill Graham. It was there, idly watching the ferries sail to-and-from the harbour, that he conceived of that scene-setting first verse and the basic chords for “The Dock of the Bay”. Back in the studio, he asked Cropper to flesh out the melody and the brilliant, bittersweet lyrics.
'60s  1967  Beatles  music  Otis_Redding  pop_music  R&B  singers  songs  soul  Stax  tributes 
october 2019 by jerryking
'Black People Will Be Free': How Aretha Lived The Promise Of Detroit : NPR
August 16, 20186:49 PM ET

It is important to understand the tradition of black liberation theology, a term coined by James H. Cone, that sought to use scripture to center black self-determination. In Detroit, pastors like C.L. Franklin and Albert Cleage of the Shrine of the Black Madonna used black liberation theology to help a growing black city to imagine itself powerful. They used their churches to launch the campaign of Detroit's black political class, including Coleman Young. At the same time, Rev. Franklin's church remained a touch point for even more radical organizing. He opened New Bethel to black auto workers who were waging a class struggle within a racist United Automobile Workers union. He gave shelter to Black Panthers who were targeted by J. Edgar Hoover's crusade against them. Later leaders of the fractured Black Power movement like the late Jackson, Miss. mayor (and Detroit native) Chokwe Lumumba gathered at New Bethel to form the Republic of New Afrika.
Aretha_Franklin  black_liberation_movement  Black_Panthers  Black_Power  Detroit  obituaries  scriptures  singers  soul  women 
august 2018 by jerryking
Opinion | How James Brown Made Black Pride a Hit
July 20, 2018 | The New York Times | By Randall Kennedy, law professor at Harvard.

African-Americans have internalized society’s derogation/denigration of blackness....It was precisely because of widespread colorism that James Brown’s anthem “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud” posed a challenge, felt so exhilarating, and resonated so powerfully....the song was written a half century go.....but, alas, the need to defend blackness against derision continues......Various musicians in the 1960s tapped into yearnings for black assertiveness, autonomy and solidarity. Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions sang “We’re a Winner.” Sly and the Family Stone offered “Stand.” Sam Cooke (and Aretha Franklin and Otis Redding) performed “A Change is Gonna Come.” But no entertainer equaled Brown’s vocalization of African-Americans’ newly triumphal sense of self-acceptance.

That Brown created the song most popularly associated with the Black is Beautiful movement is ironic.....At the very time that in “Say It Loud,” Brown seemed to be affirming Negritude, he also sported a “conk” — a distinctive hairdo that involved chemically removing kinkiness on the way to creating a bouffant of straightened hair. Many African-American political activists, especially those with a black nationalist orientation, decried the conk as an illustration of racial 1968... prejudice against blackness remained prevalent, including among African-Americans.....Champions of African-American uplift in the 1960s sought to liberate blackness from the layers of contempt, fear, and hatred with which it had been smeared for centuries. Brown’s anthem poignantly reflected the psychic problem it sought to address: People secure in their status don’t feel compelled to trumpet their pride.....Colorism was part of the drama that starred Barack and Michelle Obama....Intra-racial colorism in Black America is often seen as a topic that should, if possible, be avoided, especially in “mixed company.” .....Colorism, however, remains a baleful reality.....
'60s  African-Americans  blackness  black_liberation_movement  black_nationalism  black_pride  Black_Is_Beautiful  colorism  James_Brown  music  Negritude  self-identification  songs  Spike_Lee  soul  white_supremacy  biases  self-acceptance  self-hatred  shadism  hits  1968 
july 2018 by jerryking
Giving Away Your Billion
JUNE 6, 2017 | The New York Times | David Brooks.

Recently Brooks has been reading the Giving Pledge letters. These are the letters that rich people write when they join Warren Buffett’s Giving Pledge campaign. They take the pledge, promising to give away most of their wealth during their lifetime, and then they write letters describing their giving philosophy......Most of the letter writers started poor or middle class. They don’t believe in family dynasties and sometimes argue that they would ruin their kids’ lives if they left them a mountain of money. Schools and universities are the most common recipients of their generosity, followed by medical research and Jewish cultural institutions. A ridiculously disproportionate percentage of the Giving Pledge philanthropists are Jewish.......What would David Brooks do if he had a billion bucks to use for good? He’d start with the premise that the most important task before us is to reweave the social fabric. People in disorganized neighbourhoods need to grow up enmeshed in the loving relationships that will help them rise. The elites need to be reintegrated with their own countrymen. .....Only loving relationships transform lives, and such relationships can be formed only in small groups. Thus, I’d use my imaginary billion to seed 25-person collectives around the country.....The collectives would hit the four pressure points required for personal transformation:

Heart: By nurturing deep friendships, they would give people the secure emotional connections they need to make daring explorations.

Hands: Members would get in the habit of performing small tasks of service and self-control for one another, thus engraving the habits of citizenship and good character.

Head: Each collective would have a curriculum, a set of biographical and reflective readings, to help members come up with their own life philosophies, to help them master the intellectual virtues required for public debate.

Soul: In a busy world, members would discuss fundamental issues of life’s purpose, so that they might possess the spiritual true north that orients a life.
social_fabric  David_Brooks  philanthropy  moguls  high_net_worth  Warren_Buffett  elitism  collectives  personal_transformation  plutocracies  plutocrats  disorganization  daring  relationships  emotional_connections  soul  North_Star  virtues  engaged_citizenry  civics  Jewish  biographies  friendships  self-reflective  giving 
june 2017 by jerryking
Junie Morrison, a Funk Mastermind, Dies at 62 - The New York Times
Continue reading the main storyShare This Page
music  soul  funk  psychedelic  African-Americans  '70s  obituaries  old_school  hip_hop  rappers 
february 2017 by jerryking
Percy Sledge and the Southern Soul Revolution | The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum
April 16: 9 a.m.
Posted by Charles L Hughes

Sledge’s spare, aching ballad – the still-iconic “When A Man Loves A Woman” – not only set a musical template for deep soul, but also reflected the unique musical alchemy that made Muscle Shoals and southern soul into an international symbol of cultural change. ....By the end of the 1960s, southern-soul was one of the most prominent styles of popular music and a symbol for racial breakthrough in the era of Civil Rights and Black Power. -
'60s  black_liberation_movement  black_nationalism  Percy_Sledge  tributes  obituaries  soul  Muscle_Shoals  singers  music  songwriters  southern_soul  discrimination  Black_Power 
april 2015 by jerryking
Stevie Wonder’s ‘Love’s in Need of Love Today’
When Stevie Wonder released “Songs in the Key of Life,” in 1976, some at Motown were uneasy. Two years had passed since his last album with the label, “Fulfillingness’…
gospel  music  singers  '70s  Stevie_Wonder  pop  soul  Motown  songwriters 
march 2015 by jerryking
The Death of Soul’s King: remembering Sam Cooke 50 years after his death - WSJ
Dec. 9, 2014

What has survived are Cooke’s hits, including “You Send Me,” “Cupid” and “Another Saturday Night.” All remain relevant and continue to be covered by contemporary artists. Overlooked, however, are two of Cooke’s other big achievements: In the late 1950s and early ’60s, the singer-songwriter pioneered romantic soul and created a formula for success that helped Motown and other black-owned labels cross over to the pop charts with original music.

In the late 1950s, Cooke was the first black singer-songwriter to figure out how to parlay male vulnerability into sweet pleas that resonated with integrated teen audiences.
soul  killings  anniversaries  '60s  '50s  singers  music_labels  songwriters  African-Americans  Sam_Cooke  music  Motown  black-owned 
december 2014 by jerryking
The problem with biopics - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, Aug. 08 2014
James_Brown  biopics  movies  films  soul  Chadwick_Boseman 
august 2014 by jerryking
James Brown and the Making of 'Get On Up' - WSJ
Updated July 24, 2014

While Mr. Taylor was given the task of finally finding an actor to play James Brown, the two co-producers set about trimming the budget and cutting and shaping the script.

"We had 18 big dance production numbers at one time," says Mr. Grazer. "We always knew that was too many. When Mick and I brought Tate on, we were very practical about it. [The audience] will just burn out if you have 18. Too expensive and they will cease to have impact." The finished film has eight.

They cut scenes and eliminated characters. "There were too many different people, minor characters, record producers and recording engineers moving in and out," says Mr. Jagger. Some were folded into other characters like Ben Bart ( Dan Aykroyd ) the founder of Universal Attractions, the agency that launched Brown.
biopics  music  movies  films  rollingstones  James_Brown  soul  Brian_Grazer  Mick_Jagger  producers  Hollywood  Chadwick_Boseman 
august 2014 by jerryking
‘The Hippest Trip in America’ and ‘Soul Train’ -

Soul Train and the Evolutionof Culture and Style
By Nelson George
Illustrated. 236 pp. William Morrow/HarperCollins Publishers. $27.99.

The Music, Dance, and Style of a Generation
By Questlove
Illustrated. 239 pp. Harper Design/HarperCollins Publishers. $45.
books  African-Americans  book_reviews  entertainment_industry  television  soul  music_industry 
june 2014 by jerryking
Book Review: 'Respect Yourself' by Robert Gordon -
Nov. 15, 2013 | WSJ | By David Kirby.

Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion
By Robert Gordon
Bloomsbury, 463 pages, $30
music  music_labels  Stax  book_reviews  books  soul  Memphis  Muscle_Shoals 
november 2013 by jerryking
Shoal mates
October 5, 2013 | G&M | Brad Wheeler.

Nestled in the northwest corner of Alabama, the small town of Muscle Shoals was sweet home to a pair of legendary recording studios FAME Studios and Muscle Shoals Sound Studios — and the Swampers, the backing band for some of the greatest music ever recorded. Now Muscle Shoals, a feature-length documentary directed by Greg (Freddy) Camalier showing at TIFF Bell Lightbox starting this weekend, is set to tell the story of FAME Studios's boss Rick Hall and the region‘s deep-soul sound that produced hits for Percy Sledge, Wilson Pickett, Aretha Franklin and other musical icons of the 1960s and The film premiered at the Hot Docs documentary festival in Toronto earlier this year. Brad Wheeler highlights some of the magic moments in Muscle Shoals music
music  music_industry  music_labels  the_South  films  movies  '60s  '70s  Alabama  soul  Wilson_Pickett 
october 2013 by jerryking
'Muscle Shoals': Land of 1,000 Hit Records -
September 19, 2013 | WSJ | By MARC MYERS

'Muscle Shoals': Land of 1,000 Hit Records
A New Documentary About the Alabama Music Mecca
music  music_industry  soul  R&B  the_South  movies  films  Jerry_Wexler  '60s  '70s  Alabama  Wilson_Pickett 
september 2013 by jerryking
Shuggie Otis: Was it worth the 39-year wait? -
Apr. 15, 2013 | The Globe and Mail | BRAD WHEELER.

Shuggie Otis - Strawberry Letter 23 ( Shuggie Otis appeared at the Phoenix Concert Theatre in Toronto. The former whiz kid releases his first album in nearly 40 years this week. The last we’d heard from him was in 1974, when the exacting singer-guitarist released Inspiration Information, a masterpiece of chill blues and strawberry-scented funk-soul and light psychedelia. Soon after, Otis disappeared, his cult status simmering and his legend growing as fans waited upon the return of the magic man with the marvellous ’fro and sharp cheekbones. As a guitarist, his reputation took on Hendrix-like proportions. And heck, he was probably fluent in the pompatus of love, just like Steve Miller.
'70s  music  myths  funk  soul  musical_performances  psychedelic 
april 2013 by jerryking
Robin Gibb Helped Drive Bee Gees to Fame -
obituaries  disco  music  singers  '70s  Bee_Gees  pop  soul 
may 2012 by jerryking
Hit List: Ludacris -

Hit List: Ludacris
The rapper traces hip-hop's early roots in his favorite funk and soul albums
Sly & the Family Stone, 'Stand!' (1969)

Like the music of James Brown and Kool and the Gang, Sly Stone's funk-rock fusion was often raided for samples, especially in the 1980s and early '90s, when the practice was at a peak. Drum breaks and guitar riffs from this album were built into the songs of rap acts from Public Enemy to Tupac Shakur. But Mr. Bridges says the band's image was as influential as its music: "They had their own look and their own swagger."
* * *

Earth, Wind & Fire, 'Earth, Wind and Fire' (1970)
['Earth, Wind and Fire' ]

With hits like "Shining Star," this still-active band was one of the biggest of the 1970s and had an impact on many future rappers and producers, says Mr. Bridges, adding that his father's music taste helped form his own: "I'd wake up in the morning to all these records."
* * *

Marvin Gaye, 'What's Going On' (1971)
['What's Going On']

"We're going two generations deep here," says Mr. Bridges, describing himself as an heir of pioneering rappers like Big Daddy Kane, who was among the artists who lifted beats and musical hooks from this album, one of Mr. Gaye's masterpieces.
* * *

Curtis Mayfield, 'Superfly' (1972)

Although the movie "Superfly" was directed by renowned photographer Gordon Parks, the 1972 "blaxploitation" film is best remembered now for its soundtrack. With his streetwise songs about pimps and drug pushers, Mr. Mayfield "had the sound from that time that really stuck," says Mr. Bridges.
* * *

Parliament, 'Funkentelechy vs. the Placebo Syndrome' (1977)
soul  hip_hop  rappers  Ludacris  Marvin_Gaye  blaxploitation  music  music_reviews  funk  soundtracks 
november 2011 by jerryking
Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration CD Album
For those daunted by the idea of wading through the multi-volume COMPLETE STAX/VOLT SINGLES series, this two-CD best-of celebrating the label's 50th anniversary is a much more manageable item. Featuring well-known milestones in the label's history, such as Booker T. & The MGs' "Green Onions," the Staple Singers' "I'll Take You There," and Otis Redding's "(Sittin' on) The Dock of the Bay," and lesser-known gems like William Bell and Judy Clay's "Private Number," Frederick Knight's "I've Been Lonely for So Long," and Shirley Brown's "Woman to Woman," STAX 50TH is a well-chosen, informatively annotated overview of one of the 1960s and '70s' finest R&B labels.Spin (p.91) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "[A] fine introduction to Southern soul's greatest label, form its '60s R&B heyday to its '70s funk science.
music  anniversaries  Stax  the_South  soul  music_labels  '60s  '70s  R&B  funk  music_catalogues 
november 2011 by jerryking
A Paler Shade of White
October 22, 2007 | The New Yorker| by Sasha Frere-Jones
indie  music  blues  soul  music_industry  race  culture  racism  business  hip_hop 
august 2011 by jerryking
Eugene McDaniels, Singer-Songwriter of Soul and Blues Hits, Dies at 76 -
August 1, 2011

Eugene McDaniels, whose mellifluous voice brought him high onto the
Billboard charts several times in the early 1960s, and who later wrote
“Feel Like Makin’ Love,” which Roberta Flack took to the top of the
charts in 1974, died on Friday at his home in Kittery Point, Me. He was
obituaries  soul  blues  African-Americans  singers  '60s  '70s 
august 2011 by jerryking
Golden Oldies: Stax Releases A 50th-Anniversary Boxed Set -
APRIL 4, 2007 WSJ JIM FUSILLI. A joy from the first cut to the
last, "Stax 50th Anniversary Celebration" is a reminder of the glory
days of R&B, when singer, song & band came together with fervor
to spark body & soul. The music all but sweats with the musicians'
passion: No drum machines & no vocal bent to pitch by software. The
punchy horns are real brass & reeds, not lines played on
synthesizers. Now & then, a musician flubs a note or misses a cue,
but an absolute reliance on musicians' creativity can deliver brilliant
pop music that's timeless. Especially if the vocalists are the likes of
Eddie Floyd, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave and the Staple Singers...Stax
began when Jim Stewart & his sister Estelle Axton started Satellite
Records in Brunswick, Tenn. They moved it to Memphis and converted a
movie theater into a recording studio; Stewart and . Axton retained the
theater's sloping floor and angled walls, creating a room that was
responsible for the label's distinctive clean sound.
Stax  soul  R&B  blues  anniversaries  music_labels  Jim_Fusilli  music  Memphis  golden_oldies  music_catalogues  pop_music 
june 2011 by jerryking
Wounded Soul, Healing Heart -
AUGUST 19, 2003 | WSJ | By MARTIN JOHNSON. Marvin Gaye is
widely recognized as one of the greatest soul singers, yet until now one
of the most intriguing and creative phases of his career had gone
neglected....Universal Records, which in 2003 owned the Motown and Tamla
imprints that recorded Mr. Gaye has released his 1976 "I Want You" in a
two-disc set that includes voluminous notes and features alternative
versions of key tracks....In 1971, after a bitter dispute over artistic
control with the head of Motown, Berry Gordy, the singer released
"What's Going On," a probing suite of songs that chronicled his dismay
over the demise of optimism in the black community......"I Want You"
leads with the title track, which sets the mood for the program to
follow. The sound is broad and deep. During the minute-long intro, horn
ostinatos arrive and fade. Then a guitar plays a short solo before
Gaye's voice enters singing a pained ode to desire.
'70s  Berry_Gordy  Marvin_Gaye  Motown  music  R&B  singers  soul 
june 2011 by jerryking
Berry Gordy Jr. | What's Going On | When Marvin Gaye Broke Pattern | Cultural Conversation by Marc Myers -
JUNE 7, 2011 | WSJ | By MARC MYERS.

Released first as a single in January 1971, "What's Going On" marked a major turning point for Gaye, Motown and soul music. Rather than continue to record formulaic pop hits, Gaye co-wrote a song that expressed his deep concern about the Vietnam War and the toll it was taking on American society. ....The single was considered a gamble for Motown. Its blunt protest theme was in stark contrast with Gaye's sexy public persona and Motown's congenial image. But as "What's Going On" raced up the Billboard Hot 100 chart, Gaye rushed back into the studio to complete a concept album that included "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)" and "Inner City Blues." The new songs—supported by horns, strings and a choir arranged by David Van DePitte—took on urban decay, poverty, unemployment, Vietnam veterans, children and pollution.
songs  Motown  anniversaries  commemoration  Marvin_Gaye  R&B  singers  music  music_industry  soul  Berry_Gordy  '70s  turning_points  protests 
june 2011 by jerryking
Not learning the hard way
Apr. 05, 2010 | The Globe and Mail | Brad Wheeler.
Brooklyn-based Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings' new album (I Learned
the Hard Way).
R&B  music  soul  singers 
april 2010 by jerryking
Five Stairsteps
The Five Stairsteps, known as "The First Family of Soul", were
an American Chicago soul group made up of five of Betty and Clarence
Burke Sr.'s six children: Alohe Jean, Clarence Jr., James, Dennis, and
Kenneth "Keni", and briefly, Cubie. They are best known for the 1970
song "O-o-h Child", listed #392 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of
All Time.
wikipedia  music  music_industry  soul 
march 2010 by jerryking
Tribute to a Tortured Soul Singer -
November 19, 2008| The Wall Street Journal | by Jesse Drucker

Profile of soul singer, Overton Vertis Wright, a.k.a O.V. Wright.
soul  singers  music  tributes  R&B  churches  obituaries 
april 2009 by jerryking
Princess of Wails
May 9, 2008 WSJ profile by John Jurgensen of Aimee Duffy and
the other members of the wave of young British (Amy Winehouse, Estelle,
Adele, Leona Lewis) who are retooling classic American soul ballads.
music_reviews  music_industry  United_Kingdom  soul  R&B  Amy_Winehouse 
january 2009 by jerryking

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