Otis Ray Redding Jr. was an American singer and songwriter. He is considered one of the greatest singers in the history of American popular music and a seminal artist in soul music and and rythm and blues.
Why do you think Otis Redding was so popular?
Let us explore…
In order for us to understand, or at least be able to assume, why Otis Redding was (and still is, by my opinion) so popular we will have to look at the criteria we agreed upon as a class.
Just from a superficial glance at the list we can see that Otis Redding checks more than a few boxes for us:
Integrity & Authenticity
… and more
Lets dive deeper, shall we?
Maybe the trademark of Otis Redding. As we can see from almost all of his songs, he was very connected to his feelings in his writing. Therefore, the vast majority of his songs are about the matters of the heart, wether they speak directly about love or heartbreak, or there are feelings such as yearning and hope.
Another typical trait Otis Redding had in his writing was his ability to tell stories. In some of his songs you can close your eyes and imagine yourself in the situation he is singing about.
Yet, we cannot solely credit his songwriting, for it is his singing and the way he projects and sings with his heart on his sleeve, that make us feel part of the story.
Now close your eyes and listen to this song:
So? Did you see yourself on that front porch? An ashtray full of ciggarette butts, and a cup of coffee thats already cold?
I know I did…
Most of Reddings’ songs are actually not the easiest songs lyric-wise. But in order to analyze his songwriting we cannot ignore his habit of making sounds or whistling in order to demonstrate what he envisioned to the instrument players, or even to remind himself what rythm he was thinking about while writing the lyrics, in order to continue from where he stopped writing.
I think we can all agree that from just the afformentioned songs that Otis Redding is passionate both in his writing and his singing, and that just by the fact that he writes his own songs, and is not afraid of writing about his personal experience and personal life that he has integrity & authenticity. But, if you need some more proof here you have it:
Did you know that Redding actually wrote, and was the original performer of Aretha Franklins’ famous song “Respect”?
And of course we cannot ignore his excellent version of “My Girl”:
The Grand Finale
In Reddings’ final song we can see the epitome of a popular song, and all of his experience as a songwriter, along with his attempt at writing about something other than love. In this song we can see feelings of loneliness and sadness, as well as some yeraning for home. We can also see his storytelling ability mostly in his singing and delivery which makes us feel like we are “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay”. Credit must also be handed to Reddings’ long time friend and co-writer, Steve Cropper, who added the sound of seagulls and waves to really make us feel like we’re there.
Unfortunately, the song has an incredible hook – the iconic whistling at the end of the song. Redding had not finished writing the song, and therefore during the recording he whistled the final verse in order to remember the rythm of the lyrics he wanted to add. Unfortunately 3 days after the recording, Reddings plane crashed and he died at the young age of 26. Therfore his final song, and perhaps masterpiece, will forever remain unfinished.
And of course some pop-culture:
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