Episode 13: Hard to Handle


We open at Waldo Point Marina in Sausalito, California, just north of San Francisco. Otis Redding takes a break from the road on Bill Graham’s houseboat, and comes up with a signature song.

Then we talk about Stax Records: the origins, some of the artists, and the source of the Memphis Magic, that tough, lean Southern Soul sound. Lots of great musical examples, because, yeah, we roll like that.

Motown had the sales and Atlantic had the status, but Stax Soul had the lasting influence. When we back that assertion up, well, it’s about as subtle as a sledgehammer.

We’ll get to know Otis a little better. Then we stop by the Monterey Pop Festival—once again! Monterey was where Otis Redding made the jump: from a mid-level act to emerging superstar. He wasn’t the only one to do that at Monterey…

Then we will look some more at the intertwined, symbiotic relationship between the Civil Rights Movement and the music of Black America in the Sixties. And how an unpunished atrocity on a Sunday morning helped trigger a different, more militant response to white supremacy. The times get angrier, and the sound gets tougher.

We wrap up with a story we have told before: a talented life cut short by a plane crash, and a little bit about the aftermath.

Watch the ships roll in, and then watch them roll away again…


The Rock N Roll Archaeology Project believes in music education for young people, and we like to help out. We encourage you to do the same.

Here’s what we suggest. Follow this link to Donors Choose. Donors Choose is a good, efficient nonprofit. Type in “music education” as a search term and you will get a sortable list of hundreds of classroom-level music education projects in need of micro-funding. Pick one, make a small donation, and make a big difference for a promising young musician!

Thank you, and keep up the rockin!

-- C


Otis Redding: “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay,” from Dock of the Bay, 1968 Stax Records

Sam & Dave: “Soul Man,” from Soul Men, 1967 Stax Records

Booker T and the MGs: “Hip Hug-Her” from Hip-Hug Her, 1967 Stax Records

Rufus and Carla Thomas: “Cause I Love You,” single released 1960, Satellite Records

The Mar-Keys: “Last Night” from Last Night, 1961 Atlantic Records

Wilson Pickett: “The Midnight Hour,” from The Wicked Pickett, 1966 Atlantic Records

Otis Redding: “Hard to Handle,” from The Immortal Otis Redding, 1968 Atco Records

Sam & Dave: “Hold On, I’m Comin’” single released 1966, Stax Records

Peter Gabriel: “Sledgehammer,” from So, 1986 Charisma Records

Jay-Z and Kanye West, featuring Otis Redding: “Otis,” digital release 2010, Def Jam

Bobby “Blue” Bland and Yo Gotti: “Ain’t No Sunshine,” from Take Me to the River Soundtrack, 2014 Concord Music Group

Otis Redding: “These Arms of Mine,” single released 1964, Stax/Volt Records

Otis Redding: “Fa-Fa- Fa-Fa- Fa (Sad Song)” from Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, 1966 Stax Records

Otis Redding and Carla Thomas: “Tramp,” from King & Queen, 1967 Stax Records

Lee Dorsey: “Everything I Do Gohn be Funky (from now on),” from The New Lee Dorsey, reissued 2000, Arista Records

Jeff Beck: “People Get Ready,” from Rock N Roll Hall of Fame, Vol. 2: 1992-1994, digital release 2010, Odyssey

Joan Baez: “Birmingham Sunday” from Sing Out, 1964 Vanguard Records

The Freedom Singers: “Which Side Are You On,” from Sing for Freedom, 1990 Smithsonian Folkways Records

James Brown: “Say it Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud,” from Say it Loud—I’m Black and I’m Proud, 1968 King Records

James Brown: “Papa’s Got A Brand New Bag,” single released 1965, King Records

Otis Redding: “I’ve Got Dreams to Remember,” from The Immortal Otis Redding, 1968 Atco Records

Otis Redding: “Respect,” from Otis Blue, 1967 Stax Records

The Staple Singers: “Respect Yourself” from Be Altitude, 1971 Stax Records

Otis Redding: “Try a Little Tenderness,” from Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul, 1966 Stax Records

Otis Redding: “(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay,” from Dock of the Bay, 1968 Stax Records


Branch, Taylor: Parting the Waters: America in the King Years, 1954 to 1963. 1998 Simon and Schuster

Gitlin, Todd: The Sixties: Years of Hope, Days of Rage. 1987 Bantam Books

Gordon, Robert: Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. 2013 Bloomsbury Press

Guralnick, Peter: Sweet Soul Music: Rhythm & Blues and the Southern Dream of Freedom. 1986 Little, Brown & Co.

Hughes, Charles L.: Country Soul: Making Music and Making Race in the American South. 2015 University of North Carolina Press

Ribowsky, Mark: Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of American Soul. 2015 Liveright Publishing

West, Cornell: Race Matters. 2001 Beacon Press

Wexler, Jerry and Ritz, David: Rhythm and the Blues: A Life in American Music. 1993 Alfred Knopf Publishing

Newspaper Articles

“The Soul of Jerry Wexler” by Leo Sacks. Published in The New York Times, August 28th , 1993. http://www.nytimes.com/1993/08/29/books/the-soul- of-jerry- wexler.html


Monterey Pop, directed by D.A. Pennebaker. Leacock Pennebaker Films, 1968

Take Me to the River, directed by Taylor Branch. EGBA Companies, 2014

Four Little Girls, directed by Spike Lee. HBO Documentaries, 1997

Radio Programs

Peter Gabriel Interview, from National Public Radio’s “All Songs Considered,” retrieved from:

http://www.npr.org/2015/05/30/410264042/like-an- avalanche-otis- reddings-unstoppable-crossover >

Mark Ribowsky interview, from NPR’s “All Things Considered,” retrieved from: http://www.npr.org/2015/05/30/410264042/like-an- avalanche-otis- reddings-unstoppable-crossover

Online Sources: by topic, in order of appearance

The Stax Museum of Soul Music: http://staxmuseum.com/

Otis Redding Foundation: http://otisreddingfoundation.org/

Malcolm X Speech, “By Any Means Necessary,” June 28 th , 1964. Retrieved from YouTube: https://youtu.be/df5kaol1lCs?t=436