Monday 6 February 2023

(Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay

Cover version of the month # 83

Peggy Lee covers Otis Redding

Otis Redding started writing (Sittin' On) The Dock Of The Bay in the summer of 1967, finally hitting the studio in November to begin recording, returning on 7th December to finish it.

On 10th December Otis was tragically killed in a plane crash. The single was then released on 8th January 1968 and became the first posthumous number 1 single.

It's an incredible example of the art of songwriting; the picture the lyrics paints, the emotion in the vocals, the arrangement, the musicianship, the space in the song ...

However, I'm not going to write about the original. Plenty has been written about this sensational song and performance by Otis and his band over the years. Instead I'm going to focus on a  cover version by Peggy Lee.

Lee wasn't the first to cover Dock Of The Bay, that may well have been King Curtis who released an instrumental version the same year as the original. Sergio Mendes & Brasil 66 released super chilled version in 1969, while over the years Michael Bolton, Glen Campbell and also The Reddings (a band containing two of Otis' sons) have been inspired to record the song.

But the cover version that blew me away when I heard it was one by Peggy Lee that my great friend Phil introduced me to.

Opening with a funky breakbeat and a stab of horns, the bass is outrageously funky in the background (and this continues throughout). Lee's vocals are crystal clear, and feel calm in comparison to the funky jazz instrumental behind her. 

Things lift at 1-minute 29 seconds, listen to the drum rolls! The horns sound euphoric and Lee's voice soars effortlessly.

Looks like nothings gonna change

Everything still remains the same

I can't do what ten people tell me to do

So I guess I'll remain the same

There is a delicious looseness to this performance, although if you listen closely the band are working their socks off. The backing vocals are perfect, while Peggy lee's voice is utterly sublime.

Otis' original and Peggy Lee's version are added to my Cool Cover Versions playlist on Spotify.

Check Otis Redding's first take (demo) below on YouTube. Co-writer Steve Cropper makes seagull noises and whistles. At the end Otis says to Steve "you're not gonna make it as a whistler" and I think he was right!

Otis Redding official video

Otis Redding - take 1 of Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay

Peggy Lee 1969

All previous cover version of the month blogs are listed below. To listen, search for Everything Flows Cool Cover Versions playlist, featuring all of the songs below, on Spotify or CLICK HERE

Previous covers of the month

13. Hurt
39. ABBA-esque
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
64. Lola
82. Drop

1 comment:

h.gillan said...

Neil Young did a great version of (Sittin on the) Dock of the Bay with Booker T and the Mg's as well. I saw them perform that the SECC in 1993. Coincidentally this was the first time I saw Teenage Fanclub who were supporting them that night.