--Zelma Redding, Dreams to Remember
“When Otis died, the driving force was gone. And then when Martin Luther King got killed [four months later], the friendliness went out of Memphis.”
Listen up. The daddy's favorite R&B performer is Otis Redding. Yes, James Brown is Soul Brotha#1, but the Big O is soul personified. Redding came out of the projects of Macon, Georgia and a baptist church nearby to groove and move people all over the world-- to stir us so deeply, to make us want to clap hands, get out on the floor, dance real close and shout, "Sing it, Otis!
Redding put all of himself into every note of his songs; and all of himself went into us. He didn't merely touch our heart. He buried himself deep within the recesses of our soul. And we found ourselves saying, "I just wanna another day. Please, let me have just one more day to bathe in the hot, sweet soul of the Big O!"
To commemorate the 40th anniversary of his death and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Stax Records, Stax released Dreams to Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding. The DVD features 90 minutes of pure, adulterated and soulful performances of Redding. Some of the hits performed on the DVD include:
* "Pain In My Heart," * "I Can't Turn You Loose," * "I've Been Loving You Too Long," * "Sitting on the dock of the bay"
* "Try a little tenderness," * "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction," and a host of others.
Those final two performances-- "Try A Little Tenderness" and "Respect"-- were taped at a local Cleveland television show less than 24 hours before Otis' death.
Between the incredible performances, Dreams to Remember provides 40 minutes of interviews with people who were there to witness Redding's transformation from unknown singer straight out of the projects to hitmaker all over the world. These interviews do more than provide tidbits about a singer's life. They capture Redding's development from singer to artist, from soulful sound to hit machine, and from public life of a great artist to private life of a great family man.
The interviews also show how the Big O's overarching presence, boundless energy, and incredible creativity meld perfectly with young studio musicians at Stax like guitarist Steve Cropper, Booker T, Isaac Hayes, and Wayne Jackson to make hit after hit. The interview with Cropper is especially notable, since he co-wrote virtually everyone of Redding's hits. Also notable is the talk with Zelma Redding, the Big O's wife, who was left to take care of three children after Redding and his band (The Barkays) crashed into a lake in Wisconsin.
In the interviews with Jim Stewart, the founder of Stax Records and Zelma, you can sense who Redding really was as an R&B star but also as a person: a great individual artist but also a loving husband and nurturing father. Yes, Otis was not only a soulful singer, good songwriter and bandleader but a committed family man.
Sadly, a part of the interviews speak of the demise of Stax. Wayne Jackson, studio musician who played trumpet on most of Otis’ recordings, still appeared shaken after 40 years when talking about the Big O's death. He said something happened to Stax when Otis died:“When Otis died, the driving force was gone. And then when Martin Luther King got killed [four months later], the friendliness went out of Memphis.”
Most of all, Dreams To Remember: The Legacy of Otis Redding is about those incredible live performances. Altogether, it pays a fitting tribute to an amazing artist and perhaps an even greater person. And thanks to his talent, The Daddy and millions of his fans will continue to have dreams to remember.
What's your favorite Otis Redding song?