Sunday, February 22, 2009


I don’t know of a more perfect song than “I’ve Been Loving you Too Long (To Stop Now)” by Otis Redding. I don’t know of a better singer.

Look, the other day I saw a PBS special on Otis. I’ve always loved his music and many of his songs hold a strange level of significance in my ongoing maturation. Otis is the greatest singer I’ve ever heard. I put him number one on a list that includes some oddballs like Mike Patton, Tom Waits, EYE and Yoshimi, Gibby Haynes, Lux Interior, Kevin Sharp, Ian MacKaye, Diamanda Galas, among others. Such a list is evidence of my taste in music, which has been called, ahem, “eclectic.” I suspect that term is something of a compliment, though I take it more as a euphemism.

Anyway, Otis is tops, and watching that PBS special I actually got misty. The clip of him storming the stage and singing “Shake” at the Monterey Pop Festival is so energizing, I can’t see why people remember any other performance that night. Fuck Hendrix lighting his guitar on fire, Otis ruled that goddamn stage. All those hippie brats got a reminder of the R&B power on which they were weaned, and they had a real reason to dance like dopes. How can you not dance to Otis singing Sam Cooke? Hell, even this wallflower dances like a loon when he hears that song. If you’ve never seen that footage, here it is:

So, like I said, I got misty. Never have I been terribly upset about a celebrity dying, not even my heroes, not Kurt Vonnegut or even the recently passed Lux. But Otis, who died years before I was even born, his death bothers me. His death made me tear up, the way his song “I’ve Been Loving you Too Long (To Stop Now)” still gives me chills. Oddly, even though this is a sad song, I always link it with the scene in the underrated Heaven Help Us when Andrew McCarthy is making out with Mary Stuart Masterson under a boardwalk, which is an oddly beautiful moment in such a crass, hilarious film. A little bit of Otis can class up anything.