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Otis Redding is widely regarded as perhaps the greatest soul singer of all time. From “These Arms of Mine” to “Try a Little Tenderness” and “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay,” both his upbeat rockers and his ballads have impressed and chillaxed audiences since coming up via his first single at age 21.

Here, we find Bristol, England’s very own Will Clarke in a rare moment of quietude. Away from his continuing experiments with injecting dangerous levels of bass into modern house, Will writes a letter of affection to Otis Redding. We imagine Will in a tasteful smoking jacket, his ever-present ball cap sitting cockeyed yet calculated. And beard-stroking. Lots and lots… and lots of beard-stroking.

Without further ado, here is Will Clarke’s letter to Otis Redding.


Mr. Redding. I’m currently on my sofa, sitting back and listening to your posthumous “Best of…” collections. You might not technically be aware that there is a “Best of,” but I’m betting you had a pretty fair idea there might be. It’s bloody good.

I have seen a bit of the world on my own musical journey and spoken to more than a few people about your music. Never, at any time in any corner of the globe, have I heard anything negative. Always good. There’s a lot of talent out there, but you were very special. I was 8 years old when I fell in love with your music in 1998. I remember Mum and Dad paying “Dock of the Bay.” That was their first moment. And as I sit here, “How Strong My Love Is” has just come on the radio. Maybe there’s something to this letter-writing thing.

“I missed my train, but it’s one of those moments that will stay with me. When an artist can do that, those are the memories you keep with you forever.”

I can get to feeling a bit down, traveling from show to show. A looping chain of seemingly endless airports, busses and train stations. You’re the one that picks me up, and I want to say “thank you” for that—for putting a smile on my face, for making me feel good again—especially when I’m missing my family, as many of my memories with them were first soundtracked with your songs. I can be across the world but feel that we’re all in the same room again.Since I started listening to you early on, naturally whenever I hear your music, it brings up memories. First, “Respect.” It was my lead-in when I was coming up, DJing at weddings and all the family fun events. Always brings out smiles. Your version of “Satisfaction”? Don’t tell the Stones, but yours has so much more soul. I love it. My own favorite is “Try a Little Tenderness.” It’s a bit strange, as it brings tears, but they’re tears of happiness. I have a rule: Play it as loud as possible, sing as loud as possible… and don’t forget the air-organ keys.

And sometimes I am. In 2012, I was out for the evening in New York, waiting for a subway to Central Park. Walking down the stairs, I heard “Try a Little Tenderness” being sung. I rushed down to find a crowd of people surrounding an elderly gent who was making it work, pitch perfect. I’ve never seen so many smiles at one time—tears here and there, as well. I went to film it on my phone and held it up. No matter how good the moment is, you have to be there to feel it. So I put it down. Sure, I missed my train, but it’s one of those moments that will stay with me. When an artist can do that, those are the memories you keep with you forever. That’s special. Very.

I’ve never really wanted to mess around with your music professionally. It stands on its own. But I did a little edit of “Tenderness” that went into Jay-Z and Kanye’s track “Otis.” I played it as the last song at my recent show in Boston. Sharing it with people was special. There’s that word again. The way you sing, how much of yourself you put into it, has always been an inspiration when I’m writing my own music, searching for that serious soul or funk that makes people’s faces change when they hear it.

So, thank you. It’s a shame we didn’t have you on this planet longer, but in your short time, you left a big mark.

I love you, man.

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