Song Of The Day 6/9/2014: Otis Redding - "Wholesale Love"


Black Music Month/Memphis Week: My first introduction to Otis Redding was -- well, all right, yes, it was actually "(Sittin' On the) Dock of the Bay," the same as every other kid in my age range or younger. But I don't feel it should count because, fine a song as that was, it doesn't go a terribly long way in explaining why Otis Redding was the greatest singer to ever walk the earth. (I can't even get out of paragraph one without a caveat.)

My next introduction to Otis was probably exactly what you're thinking it was: Jon Cryer, channeling the ghost of Otis while playing beloved teenage alternative personality Duckie in John Hughes' comedy of resigned, class-conscious sighs, Pretty in Pink. This was in a scene in which Duckie, apropos of... I'm not sure, lip-synchs his way through Otis' driving rendition of "Try a Little Tenderness." Well, it sold records. Not on the Pretty in Pink soundtrack, where I guess they thought the presence of Otis Redding might have scared and alienated the projected new-wave demo they were chasing. But it hope it sold Otis records.

Around the time of that movie Atlantic Rhythm & Blues 1947-74 had recently been released. I bought the cassettes shortly before I left for a five-week stay in Chillicothe, Ohio and took it with me. In all likelihood my getting studious about the legacy of rhythm and blues started with that box set, and the first thing it changed my mind about was Otis Redding. After hearing "I've Been Loving You Too Long," "Respect," "Tramp" and everything he did, I decided he was the best R&B singer I'd ever heard or likely will hear. "Wholesale Love" didn't come out until three years after his unfathomably early exit. I can't think of a better way to start twenty days of R&B. Jon Cryer wasn't available.



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