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!
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
40. Jumpin' Jack Flash
44. Witchi Tai To
45. Our Lips Are Sealed
46. Sunshine Of Your Love
47. Here Comes The Sun
48. I Think We're Alone Now
49. Don't Let Me Down
50. It's Oh So Quiet
52. Summer Holiday
53. Who Do You Think You Are?
54. Head On
55. Nothing Compares 2 U