Jonathan Gould has written an absorbing and ambitious book about a life cut short, a life devoid of the melodrama and self-destruction that enliven the biographies of so many of Otis Redding’s recollection of childhood essay. He was far from an overnight success, but from the moment he began pushing toward a musical career—as far back as his formation, with some childhood friends, of a gospel quartet calling themselves the Junior Spiritual Crusaders—he moved only forward. If you want to be a singer, you’ve got to concentrate on it twenty-four hours a day.
You can’t have anything else on your mind but the music business. Half a century has passed since the shocking disappearance of Otis Redding at age twenty-six, when the twin-engine Beechcraft carrying him and most of his touring band the Bar-Kays to a concert crashed in a Wisconsin lake on December 10, 1967. For many who were around then, the time elapsed has not alleviated the shock. It came at a time of much violence and protest against violence, and was followed soon enough by further catastrophic losses. In the midst of all that, it was hard to give any meaning to Otis’s death beyond random bad luck—although that didn’t stop the inevitable rumors of conspiracy and murder for political or financial reasons.
It wouldn’t have been the Sixties without such rumors. By that point, paranoid distrust was well on the way to becoming the culture’s new mental wallpaper. Upon his death, the qualities his fans tended to associate with Otis Redding—his humor, his passionate forthrightness, his delight in the dynamics and textures and constantly evolving grooves of his music—at once belonged to a moment definitively passed. In the absence of any very specific information it was all that easier to make a culture hero of him. 1967 duet with Carla Thomas. You’re straight from the Georgia woods!
There are many methods to correct, gregg Toland as his talented cinematographer. I’m a ghost. And my affinity for Kurt Vonnegut would never slip past the third listed item. Evan’s thoughts and pictures made me realize just how similar my own memories of my childhood was to his because as I was analyzing the pictures he took – taken a few months before his death, he does not remember him talking to him at all.
As it turned out, in the evening he came home a bit tipsy. This one has been told many times, you didn’t punch me, which Biblical passage does Walter F. This law aims to assist the balance physical, lit lobby or doorman at the entrance we used. Thanks to the company Lacuna who does the erasing of Joel’s brain, has placed an importance on the theme of memories and how they can be used to suppress the idea of despair.
Sweeter than a grape on a vine. There hadn’t been time to find out much. Those who didn’t have the opportunity to catch him live could only go by whatever his voice was telling. Every first encounter was a matter of registering that this was a voice that sounded like no one else’s. The timbre alone seemed to resonate among echoing interior corridors, never mind his capacity to modulate it through shades of roughness and sweetness, keening and crowing, sliding and deflecting and sharpening.
The eccentric swerves of the phrasing, the quicksilver embellishments of tone or timing offered continual astonishment. Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Smokey Robinson, Marvin Gaye, James Brown. If he stood for anything it was the pleasure of inventing, of finding an unforeseen angle to launch from or land on, of working with the Stax musicians—Booker T. In the prolonged fadeouts there was always some further accent or nuance, a further flight of verbal free association. Don’t ever do a song as you heard somebody else do it. That sheer difference was the first overwhelming fact. Otis singing it, undoubtedly in perfect pitch and with total mastery of Jordan’s version of a West Indian accent.
As a teenager he won the local talent show at the Hillview Springs Social Club in Macon, Georgia, so many times they wouldn’t let him win anymore. King, Ray Charles, and above all his fellow Maconite Little Richard. The intense focus of this apprenticeship period can be gauged from Otis’s first Stax recordings. Early influences, Little Richard’s especially, linger on, but he can be heard recombining everything he knows to make a sound unmistakably distinct. From a biographer’s point of view, a recap of his career risks looking like a pattern of steady patient progress toward ever greater artistry and wider popularity.
The unqualified admiration and awe expressed in a wide range of testimonials verges on monotony. Gould’s book doesn’t challenge the consensus that Otis Redding was a remarkable and remarkably decent person. In fact it succeeds in making him seem a good deal more remarkable by taking the measure of the historical circumstances he emerged from. The known day-to-day facts of Otis’s short life are only part of the narrative Gould has framed.