Songs with Earlier Histories Than the Hit Version

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Try a Little Tenderness

First recorded by Ray Noble Orchestra (1932).
Hit versions by Ruth Etting (US #16 1933), Ted Lewis & His Band (US #6 1933), Aretha Franklin (US #100 1962), Otis Redding (US #25/R&B #4/UK #26 1966), Three Dog Night (US #29 1969).
Also recorded by Little Miss Cornshucks (1951), Sam Cooke (1964), Tom Jones (1969).
Also performed by The Commitments (1991), Paul Giamatti & Andre Braugher (2000).

From the wiki: “‘Try a Little Tenderness’ is a song written by Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, a British songwriting team who often collaborated with a third composer – in this case the American, Harry Woods. The song was first recorded on December 8, 1932 by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with vocals by Val Rosing) followed in early 1933 by Ruth Etting’s first charting version. The song quickly became a standard. Subsequent productions were recorded by Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Frankie Laine, Earl Grant, Nina Simone, Etta James and others – including a discovery by Atlantic Records founder, Ahmet Ertegun: Little Miss Cornshucks.

“In 1962, Aretha Franklin recorded the song, charting at #100 in the US at a time when most of her singles failed to get much higher. ‘Tenderness’ was one of two songs Aretha Franklin performed when she made her TV debut on American Bandstand August 2, 1962. Her arrangement was similar to that of the previous crooner versions and her vocal relatively restrained.

“Sam Cooke’s arrangement of ‘Try a Little Tenderness” was recorded as part of medley with ‘(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons’ and ‘You Send Me’ as part of a live set recorded at the legendary Copacabana in July 1964, accompanied by a band that included guitarist Bobby Womack, for release that October as Sam Cooke Live at the Copa.

“It was Otis Redding who would create the definitive soulful version of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’. The story is told that Redding did not want to record the song because he felt Sam Cooke’s recording could not be topped. Redding idolized the man and he considered Cooke’s live recording (as part of a medley, from Sam Cooke at the Copa) couldn’t be topped. But, Stax Records executives and Redding’s friends wore him down with a constant barrage of requests. When he finally did go into the studio to record ‘Tenderness’, Redding did it with a pleading vocal that he was ‘sure’ would not be released. The ploy didn’t work. Redding’s version of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ became his signature song and his biggest-seller before the posthumous release of ‘(Sittin’ On) The Dock of the Day’. A live version performed in 1967 at the Monterey International Pop Festival was also recorded by Redding.

“In 1968, Three Dog Night recorded ‘Tenderness’ as a tribute to the late Otis Redding, and their first-ever Top 40 hit. In live performances, the group would often stretch the song to the 15-20 minute mark.

“Redding’s recording of ‘Try a Little Tenderness’ heavily influenced 1991 cult Irish movie The Commitments, at one point the band performing the song in the style of Otis Redding. The song was featured again in Duets, a road trip film released in 2000 co-starring Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Giamatti, Maria Bello, Scott Speedman, Andre Braugher, Huey Lewis and Angie Dickinson, revolving around the little known world of karaoke competitions and the wayward characters who inhabit it.”

Ruth Etting, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1933):

Ted Lewis & His Band, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1933):

Little Miss Cornshucks, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1951):

Aretha Franklin, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1962):

Sam Cooke, “Medley: Try a Little Tenderness/(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons/You Send Me” (1964):

Otis Redding, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1966):

Otis Redding, “Try a Little Tenderness” live performance Monterey International Pop Festival (1967):

Three Dog Night, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1968):

Tom Jones, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1969):

The Commitments, “Try a Little Tenderness” (1991):

Paul Giamatti & Andre Braugher (Arnold McCuller), “Try a Little Tenderness” from Duets (2000):

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