Try A Little Tenderness

Album: Otis Redding's Dictionary Of Soul (1966)
Charted: 46 25
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  • This song is a standard recorded by many artists, including crooners Frank Sinatra, Mel Torme and Bing Crosby. It was written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly and Harry Woods, and first published in 1933. Campbell and Connelly were a British songwriting team who often collaborated with a third composer, which in this case was the American Harry Woods.

    In 1962, Aretha Franklin recorded the song, charting at #100 in the US at a time when most of her singles failed to get much higher. Her arrangement was similar to that of the previous crooner versions and her vocal relatively restrained; it was Otis Redding who did the definitive soulful version of the song, complete with horns, organ, and an uninhibited vocal that builds in intensity as the song progresses.
  • Redding did not want to record this song, but Stax Records executives and his friends wore him down with a constant barrage of requests. When he finally recorded it, he did it with a pleading vocal that he was "sure" would not be released. The ploy didn't work. Redding's version of "Try a Little Tenderness" became his signature song and the biggest-selling of the records released before his death.
  • Sam Cooke's version of this was a big influence on Redding. It was never released as a single but was one of high points of his live "Sam Cooke at the Copa" LP (1964) as part of a medley that started with "Tenderness" (followed by "Sentimental Reasons" and "You Send Me"). Redding idolized the man, particularly after Cooke's death, but he did not want to record "Tenderness." He caved in after tremendous pressure from his friends and (according to one source) a family member - but he didn't want to record it like Cooke (in fact, he considered his version a "joke" to quiet the people who wanted him to record it). The rest is history.
  • Redding recorded for Stax Records in Memphis, whose house band - Booker T. & the M.G.'s - backed him on this track. According to their drummer Al Jackson, this was the only song he ever played soft on (at least for the first part of the song), since they typically went for a hard-driving sound.
  • Three Dog Night recorded this as a tribute to the late Otis Redding. Their version became their first Top 40 hit in 1968. Their first Top 10 hit, "One," written and originally recorded by Harry Nilsson, soon followed.

    For Three Dog Night, it was a staple of their live shows throughout the 1980s. They would often stretch the song to the 15-20 minute mark.
  • In the movie Bull Durham, erratic young pitcher Nuke LaLoosh, played by Tim Robbins, sings this on the team bus but butchers the lyrics, much to the dismay of Crash Davis, the veteran catcher played by Kevin Costner. Instead of "Young girls they do get wearied" he sang "Young girls they do get wooly."
  • This was one of two songs Aretha Franklin performed when she made her TV debut on American Bandstand August 2, 1962. A cover by her peaked at #100 on the Hot 100 the same year.
  • Jon Cryer's character Duckie lip-synchs this to Molly Ringwald's character Andie in the 1986 movie Pretty In Pink. The film's director Howard Deutch chose the song because he wanted something that would express the heartbreak Duckie feels as he tries to make inroads with Andie.

    In 2015, Cryer re-created the scene on The Late Late Show with James Corden.
  • This was covered by Florence and the Machine for their 2012, MTV Unplugged – A Live Album. Speaking with Nicole Alvarez of LA radio station 106.7 KROQ, Florence Welch said it was hard choosing an acoustic cover for the show. "I almost didn't do 'Try A Little Tenderness' because it's my favorite song and I thought, 'I can't do this,'" she admitted. "I didn't know how to do it the same, but I just thought, 'I've got to slow it down.'"
  • The Otis Redding version was used in 2015 commercials for McDonald's Chicken Select Tenders. Because, you know, "tender" is in the song title.
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Comments: 20

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 21, 1967, Otis Redding performed his covered version of "Try A Little Tenderness" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #25 on Billboard's Top 100, that would also be it's peak position on the chart, and it spent ten weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's Hot R&B Singles chart...
    Three other versions of the song have made the Top 100 chart; Aretha Franklin {#100 in 1962}, Glen Campbell {#23 in 1969}, and Three Dog Night {#29, also in 1969}...
    Between 1962 and 1969 he had thirty-one records on the Hot R&B Singles chart, thirteen made the Top 10 with one* reaching #1, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", for three weeks on March 10th, 1968...
    Nine of his 31 charted records entered the Hot R&B Singles chart after his death...
    Sadly, 'The King of Soul' passed away at the young age of 26 on December 10th, 1967 {plane crash}...
    May he R.I.P.
    * He just missed having two more #1 records when both "I've Been Loving You Too Long" {1966} and "Tramp" {1967, a duet with Carla Thomas} both peaked at #2.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 3rd 1967, Otis Redding was one the acts* to appear in concert at the Civic Coliseum in Knoxville, Tennessee; ticket prices were $2.50, $3.00, and $3.50...
    At the time his "Try A Little Tenderness" was at #39 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; one week earlier it would peak at #25 {for 1 week} and it stayed on the chart for 10 weeks...
    * Other acts on the bill were Aaron Neville, the Marvelettes, the Drifters, and James & Bobby Purify; and all these acts also had a record on the Top 100 at the time.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn September 23rd 1962, Aretha Franklin's covered version of "Try A Little Tenderness" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart for a one week stay, and that was at position #100.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 21st 1967, Otis Redding performed "Try A Little Tenderness" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    R.I.P. Mr. Redding (1941 - 1967).
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 3rd, 1966 "Try A Little Tenderness" by Otis Redding entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; eventually it peaked at #25 and spent 10 weeks on the Top 100...
    It reached #4 on Billboard's R&B Singles chart...
    Booker T. and the MGs backed Mr. Redding on the record...
    In 1962 Aretha Franklin's covered version reached the Top 100, right at #100...
    Three Dog Night's debut record was a covered version of this song, it peaked at #29 and stayed on the Top 100 for 12 weeks.
  • Harry from Baltimore, MdThe most exciting version I've ever heard is on the recently released "Otis Redding Live In London & Paris." These are the shows that the "Live In Europe" album was constructed from. The Paris version builds into a huge climax as Otis, the band and the audience drive each other into a frenzy. It ends with a chorus of the other headliners on the show (including Sam & Dave, I think) coming back on stage for a finale as the microphone is passed from one to another. An incredible moment!
  • Mike from Chicago, IlDennis from New York, I completely agree with the live version he did at Monterey. Heard it on the radio once and couldn't believe it! But I can't find it on a CD. Let me know if anyone can help!
  • Hugh Laurie from Cambridge, United KingdomThis is a great song. It was covered in the motion picture The Commitments.
  • Dasha from Atlanta, GaI just saw the Movie Duet, two actors were singing the song at a bar. I really like the song, so I did some research and saw it Otis Redding. Sound Good.
  • Roman from Barrie, OnThe song was written in the 1911-15 period by three dudes and has been performed and recorded by a variety of artists. The version by Otis is the most complex and musically entertaining of all the versions I have heard.
  • Melissa from Brent, AlHas anyone heard Rod Stewart singing this song?That's my favorite version.
  • Brittney from Milwaukee, WiI just saw THIS CHRISTMAS and Chris Brown song this song. I never heard this song before then, but I loved it This song is AWESOME!
  • Joe from Dublincan't believe Andrew Strong was only 16 singing this in the Commitments. that blows my mind!
  • Dennis from New York, NyThe best version of this song is on the "Live at Monterey" recording which also featured Jimi Hendrix's live performance on the flip side. Otis really tears them up and leaves them weak!
  • Joanne from Minneapolis, MnThis was also song by Paul Giamati in the film "Duets", and quite amzaingly too!
  • Kent from Palm Springs, CaHas anyone besides me noticed that when you buy and download the Otis Redding: Live in Europe album from iTunes, the version of Try a Little Tenderness is a totally different version from that which was on the original album? Major disappointment, I'd already bought the Otis Redding Greatest Hits album but downloaded the original Live In Europe album because I wanted the version I had on the LP.
  • Curtis from Cornwall On Hudson , NyThis song was THE BEST track from the movie The Commitments. Andrew Strong, the lead singer is the blackest white man I've ever heard! Great song and great movie!
  • Alisha from Peabody, MaTry A Little Tenderness (not by Otis Redding..an instrumental version) is featured in the opening credits of Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove.
  • Katie from Neenah, WiI can't believe this hasn't been listed, but Redding's version of this song was featured in the movie, "Pretty in Pink" with Jon Cryer and Molly Ringwald, the queen of The Brat Pack. In this sequence, Jon Cryer's character, Duckie, sings along with this song in the record store where Molly Ringwald's character, Andie, works. It is an amazing scene and probably the most memorable of the movie. Jon Cryer is unusually hot while singing along with Otis Redding and this is how I first heard of the song. I can't believe this isn't listed!
  • John from Seattle, WaThis was covered by "Dragnet" star JACK WEBB on and is included on the first "Golden Throats" compilation of horrible recordings of hits by actors/celebrities. Webb's versions is a slow, spoken word piece done over a lush string section. Not one word is sung. All of it is spoken as if it could be an episode of "Dragnet" where Joe Friday is giving love advice to a hippie stoner.
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