It is a bitter irony that Otis Redding lost his life while he was flying high in the skies fifty years ago today. Stars belong in the sky and Otis was a star if ever there was one. His music has proven that it will certainly burn as long as any star we can gaze at on a clear night. When you listen to his music, it is hard to imagine that a voice so rich with depth and pain was roaring from the heart and soul of a man in his early 20’s. Otis was only 26 when he left the earth but his music felt like it came from a man with many more decades of wear and tear on his frame.
Maybe that’s not so surprising considering that a black man born in 1941 in rural Georgia was going to know struggle in a way that relatively few people could know. And he made the most of that platform- expressing his vision and experience with pure soul and without bitterness. That is why so many of us love Otis Redding. It is why a guy like me wasn’t even born until five years after he fell from the sky but I’ve been grooving to him regularly since I “discovered” his catalogue when I was a college kid in the ’90’s.
Everybody knows and loves his biggest hit ever, “Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay” and it deserves the status it holds. But check out my two personal favorites that get a little bit less love but maybe should get a little more. Before you go grab his “Greatest Hits” cd which I hope you do, dig the fact that there are 2 distinct sides of Otis- the soul stirring and emotional Otis and the affable, fun-loving Otis. Here’s an example of both. Rest In Paradise, Brother Otis.