Thursday, January 24, 2008

Thursday Youtube - Otis

To me, Otis Redding always seemed a lot older than he actually was. With his big face and gravely voice, my image of him long resembled an old bluesman. But I was unenlightened back then. Redding was a passionate performer, full of vivacity and passion. He wrote nearly all of his songs and found a way to make that gravel vibrate with naked soul. Otis died in a plane crash in Madison, Wisconsin just a month after his 26th birthday.

For many people of our generation, our initiation to Redding's music was as the soundtrack to Country Time Lemonade commercials. That song, Dock of the Bay, was by far his biggest hit. Sadly, he wasn't around to see that success as the song was released posthumously.

When people talk about tragic deaths in music, Redding is often the afterthought, perhaps because there's been no movie made about his life. While Richie Valens and Buddy Holly were surely quality artists who had some great hits, neither was building towards the career that Otis likely had ahead of him. This was not a death from drugs or other recklessness, which perhaps makes it all the less poetic.

The older I get, the more of his music I find, the more I appreciate him. Nobody has ever had soul like Otis. There is depth to his vocal tracks. You can listen to these songs over and over and grasp new details and feelings in the music he made. I guess the silver lining is that his music doesn't get old, even if he's gone.

Perhaps the most tragic thing about Redding's early demise was that his best days were ahead of him. And not only a tragedy for him, but for all of us. The music he was poised to make over the next ten years of his life would have made us jump, shout, shake, and weep. We were really robbed. So enjoy these clips. Then watch 'em again if you really want to get it all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It is such a shame we do not have this kind of talen today.
Otis was great...