We had our first snowfall of the season here in southern Rhode Island yesterday. There wasn’t much of an accumulation, but watching the snow fall gently on the town Christmas tree across the street really put me in a holiday mood. I finally even put up those lights I’d be staring at in the box for a few days.
As you may recall, a couple of weeks ago I gave away several copies of Rhino’s wonderful new Donnie Hathaway Anthology. I thought it might be nice to continue in the spirit of the season, and offer another gift to the readers of Soul Serenade. So I contacted a very nice publicist and she was kind enough to allow me to offer four copies of the wonderful new Robert Gordon book “Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion”. I’ve been reading this book recently and if you’re a fan of Stax Records, or a music fan in general, you’re going to enjoy it. Read through to the end to find out how to win your copy.
In many ways it was Otis Redding who put Stax on the map. He first came to Stax in 1962 as a valet for a guitar player from Macon named Johnny Jenkins. The demo session for Jenkins didn’t go very well, but throughout the day Redding kept asking if he could have a shot. He finally got his opportunity that day, and the result was his first classic recording “These Arms of Mine.” That is Redding’s soon-to-be former boss Jenkins on guitar.
Redding took a band out on the road to promote “These Arms of Mine” an didn’t return to Stax for six months. In subsequent visits he recorded classics like “Ruler of My Heart,” “Pain in My Heart,” “Security,” “That’s How Strong My Love Is,” and “Mr. Pitiful.” He was backed by the Stax house band, Booker T & the MG’s, on these recordings.
Stax owner Jim Stewart was particularly impressed by Redding’s way with the slower tunes as reflected in this quote from “Respect Yourself.”
“I loved Otis doing ballads,” says Jim. “To me that’s where he stood out, and that’s where you get the real Otis, and the real warmth, and everything about him.”
Stewart got more of what he was looking for when Redding cut “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” in early 1965. The song got its start with an idea that Jerry Butler had, but was unable to finish. Butler and Redding ended up hanging out in a hotel room one night after a show, and Butler told Redding about his idea. Butler had worked on the idea for three years, but it was just a short time later that Redding called him and said that he had not only finished the song, but had recorded it and released it as well. Butler was given his due credit as a writer on the finished record.
“I never would have approached it the way that he approached it,” Butler said. “It was just beautiful.”
In another quote from the book Stewart opines that “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” was the real beginning for Otis Redding as a worldwide phenomenon.
“That song to me was the beginning of him being that superstar that you always dream of working with in your lifetime. Just the words, to hear him say ‘I’ve been loving you too long to stop now’ — what more do you have to say? It makes you want to cry.”
To win a copy of “Respect Yourself” all you have to do is hit the like button on this page, and then answer one simple question. Next email your answer, along with a valid U.S. mailing address, to ken (ken-at-popdose-dot-com). In the subject line of your email put “Respect Yourself.” The contest will end on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. At that time I will choose the winners at random from all of the correct entries. If you were a winner in the Donnie Hathaway contest, let’s give some other people a shot at this one.
Here’s the question:
What original member of Booker T & the MG’s played bass on the early Otis Redding hit “These Arms of Mine”?