Try a Little Tenderness on Otis Redding, Jr.’s Birthday

Born today in 1941, the late, great Otis Ray Redding, Jr., may have been from Dawson, Georgia, but his name will forever be connected with Memphis, Tennessee. It was there where the singer, songwriter, talent scout, record producer and arranger crafted the music that would define the legendary Stax Records sound and launch him into international stardom as one of the most influential soul artists of the 1960s.

Redding is probably most known for his monster hit, "(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay," which became the first posthumous Number One record on both the Billboard Hot 100 and R&B charts. It was the lead-off track from his posthumously released 1968 LP, The Dock of the Bay, which became the first posthumous album to hit Number One on the UK albums chart.

Tragically, Redding died in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26. Later, James Brown claimed in his autobiography, The Godfather of Soul, that he warned Redding not to take that ill-fated flight, which took off, despite warnings, in heavy rain and fog. The only survivor of the crash was Bar-Kays member Ben Cauley.

Take a moment to remember the man known as "The King of Soul" and enjoy this video of his performance of his signature track "Try a Little Tenderness," originally written in 1932 by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry M. Woods and previously covered by Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra. Redding died just a day after this performance. He would have been 72 today.

"If there’s one song, one performance that really sort of sums up Otis and what he’s about, it’s ‘Try a Little Tenderness,’" said Stax co-founder Jim Stewart. "That one performance is so special and so unique that it expresses who he is."

Frank Ocean’s Track For ‘Django Unchained,’ Unsurprisingly, Lovely

Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited Django Unchained hit theatres yesterday, and some of you may have spent your Christmas at the movies watching Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz on their bounty-hunting, wife-rescuing mission. So far, Django has enjoyed a pretty positive reception, four Golden Globe nominations and favorable reviews of its soundtrack, which features a varied bunch, including Rick Ross, Jim Croce, Ennio Morricone and, of all things, a posthumous 2Pac/James Brown mashup. Missing from the musical selection is one last gem, Frank Ocean’s ballad "Wiseman," which was written for the film but ultimately left off the soundtrack. 

As Tarantino explained in a statement on the release of the music from the film: 

"Frank Ocean wrote a fantastic ballad that was truly lovely and poetic in every way, there just wasn’t a scene for it. I could have thrown it in quickly just to have it, but that’s not why he wrote it and not his intention. So I didn’t want to cheapen his effort. But, the song is fantastic, and when Frank decides to unleash it on the public, they’ll realize it then."

And indeed, he was right. The public will. The song is now available for your listening pleasure, and it is indeed a beautiful ballad, with Ocean’s voice, as always, the standout in a sea of guitars and synths. For a movie that explores notions of motivation and action and good and evil and all those things, it would have been a fitting addition, at least thematically. 

Ocean doesn’t seem that upset about his song being left off the soundtrack, though. Over the weekend, he streamed "Wiseman" on his Tumblr, captioning it and Tweeting that "django was ill without it." Based on the rest of the soundtrack, it’s hard to imagine a place for it, but it’s worth a listen with or without the film attached. You can stream it there.