Otis Redding was an American singer, songwriter, and musician, widely considered one of the greatest soul singers of all time. Born in Georgia in 1941, he began his career as a musician playing with local bands before landing a recording contract in the early 1960s. Redding’s raw, emotional vocals and powerful stage presence quickly made him a standout in the soul music scene. He had a string of hits in the mid-1960s, including “Try a Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long,” and “Respect,” which was later famously covered by Aretha Franklin.
Tragically, Redding’s career was cut short when he died in a plane crash in 1967 at the age of 26. However, his impact on soul music has endured. His music has been covered by numerous artists and has been featured in films and TV shows. Redding was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1989, and his song “(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Bay” became a hit after his death and is now considered one of the greatest soul songs ever recorded. His legacy continues to influence and inspire new generations of musicians.
1. Cigarettes and Coffee (1966)
“Cigarettes and Coffee” is a soulful ballad by Otis Redding that was released in 1966. The song tells the story of a man who wants to spend a little more time with the woman he loves. He suggests they sit and talk over cigarettes and coffee, hoping that their conversation will lead to a deeper connection. Redding’s soulful voice conveys the longing and passion of the lyrics, backed by a slow and romantic melody. The song’s simple yet poignant lyrics and Redding’s emotive vocals have made it a beloved classic in the world of soul music.
2. My Girl (1965)
“My Girl” is a classic soul song by The Temptations, released in 1965. The song’s catchy melody and romantic lyrics celebrate the beauty and charm of the protagonist’s girlfriend. The song’s optimistic and uplifting message of love and appreciation made it an instant hit, and it became one of the most well-known and beloved songs of its era. “My Girl” remains a timeless classic, with its popularity enduring over the years through numerous covers and appearances in films and television shows.
3. These Arms of Mine (1964)
“These Arms of Mine” is a soulful love song by Otis Redding, released in 1964. The song features a slow, bluesy rhythm and Redding’s emotive vocals, expressing the longing and desire of a man for his lover. Its lyrics describe the physical and emotional comfort of being held in someone’s arms, with Redding’s voice conveying a raw and passionate intensity. “These Arms of Mine” became a hit for Redding, reaching the top 20 on the R&B charts, and remains a classic of soul music. Its emotive lyrics and Redding’s powerful vocals continue to resonate with listeners today.
4. Try a Little Tenderness (1967)
“Try a Little Tenderness” is a classic soul song performed by Otis Redding, originally released in 1966. The song is an impassioned plea to a lover to be more understanding and caring, urging them to show a little tenderness and compassion. The song’s intense vocals, backed by a powerful horn section and a slow, soulful melody, make for a powerful and moving performance. Redding’s ability to convey deep emotion through his voice and lyrics has made the song a timeless classic and a staple of soul music, inspiring many covers and interpretations over the years.
5. That’s How Strong My Love Is (1964)
“That’s How Strong My Love Is” is a classic soul song originally recorded by O.V. Wright in 1964. The song’s simple but powerful lyrics express the depth of the protagonist’s love and devotion to their partner, declaring that it is strong enough to withstand any obstacle or challenge. The song’s emotive vocals and soulful instrumentation make it a timeless classic of the genre, and it has been covered by numerous artists over the years. “That’s How Strong My Love Is” remains a beloved and influential soul song, showcasing the genre’s ability to convey deep emotions through music.
6. I Can’t Turn You Loose (1967)
“I Can’t Turn You Loose” is a classic soul song by Otis Redding, released in 1967. The song features a driving rhythm section, horn arrangements, and Redding’s powerful vocals, expressing his inability to let go of his lover. Its lyrics describe the intense and passionate nature of their relationship, with Redding’s voice conveying a sense of urgency and desperation. “I Can’t Turn You Loose” was a hit for Redding, and has since become a beloved staple of soul music, with its high-energy sound and Redding’s dynamic vocals inspiring countless covers and tributes over the years.
7. The Dock of the Bay (1967)
“The Dock of the Bay” is a soulful and introspective song by Otis Redding, released posthumously in 1967. The song features Redding’s melancholy vocals, accompanied by gentle acoustic guitar and the sounds of seagulls and waves, creating a wistful and reflective atmosphere. Its lyrics express feelings of loneliness, longing, and a sense of displacement, with Redding singing about spending time alone and watching the ships come in and out of the bay. “The Dock of the Bay” remains one of Redding’s most beloved and iconic songs, known for its poignant lyrics and Redding’s soulful delivery.
8. I’ve Got Dreams to Remember (1966)
“I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” is a soulful and emotional song by Otis Redding, released in 1968, after his untimely death. The song expresses the pain and longing of lost love, with Redding’s powerful vocals bringing a raw and heartfelt quality to the lyrics. The song’s instrumentation, including the soulful guitar and horns, adds to its emotional impact. “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember” remains a beloved classic of soul music, showcasing Redding’s unique talent as a singer and songwriter, and his ability to convey deep emotions through his music. The song has been covered by numerous artists over the years, attesting to its enduring popularity and influence.
9. Satisfaction (1966)
“Satisfaction” is a hit song by the Rolling Stones, released in 1965. The song features a catchy guitar riff, driving rhythm section, and Mick Jagger’s distinctive vocals, expressing a sense of restlessness and dissatisfaction with life. Its lyrics describe the desire for something more, with Jagger singing about the frustrations of working a nine-to-five job and seeking out new experiences. “Satisfaction” became an instant classic upon its release, and remains one of the Rolling Stones’ most iconic and recognizable songs, inspiring countless covers and tributes over the years and cementing its status as a rock and roll anthem.
10. A Change Is Gonna Come (1965)
“A Change Is Gonna Come” is a powerful and poignant soul song recorded by Sam Cooke in 1964 and released in 1965. The song is a call for racial equality and social justice, and is widely considered to be one of the greatest protest songs of all time. Cooke’s soulful and emotional vocals, combined with the song’s stirring melody and poignant lyrics, make for a deeply moving performance that speaks to the struggles of the Civil Rights movement and the need for change. The song has remained a timeless classic and an anthem for those fighting for justice and equality.