Otis Redding is one of the greatest recording artists of the 20th century and also ever, has produced some absolutely essential jams and was taken from this world far too soon. These are all things I don’t even have to tell you, because they are common knowledge to anyone with a pulse. But despite the painfully abrupt end to his career, Otis Redding was surprisingly prolific, not only creating a catalog of essential hits, but a soundtrack to pretty much every possible mood or occasion, from the summer evening contemplation of "(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay" to the ebullient "Shout Bamalama."
But it is March, and even though Daylight Savings Time is just around the corner, it’s still pretty dreary and dark in certain parts of the country. And it is cold. And it is slushy. And maybe you’re lonely or your job sucks or you’re worried about this sequester thing or are sad that Enlightened is over. You just need a musical shoulder to cry on, and Otis Redding can be that too. This week, Stax/Volt (via the Concord Music Group label) released a compilation of some of Redding’s finest ballads called Lonely & Blue: The Deepest Soul of Otis Redding, and even if you don’t need a late soul singer to pick you up, do yourself a favor and curl up with some of these songs this weekend. The spoken "Otis, I love you" and slow-burning saxes of "A Waste of Time" will warm you up; the first belted note of "I’ve Been Loving You too Long" still sends chills. And then, there is "These Arms of Mine," and admit it, you still get weepy at that scene in Dirty Dancing with that one. It’s okay, we all do. No one will tell. Do something nice for yourself this weekend, and listen to some Otis ballads.