Friday, March 06, 2009

Rock of Ages: Otis Redding - "I've Been Loving You Too Long" (1965)

The first time I was familiar with the beautiful love song "I've Been Loving You Too Long" was when I watched Heaven Help Us religiously on Comedy Central. Otis Redding crooned as the young lovers, who were soon to be torn apart, grasped each other underneath a boardwalk on Long Island as a spring rain comes down. They embrace and kiss passionately for the first time. It's a movie moment forever melted into the romance lobe of my brain, wherever that may be. The next time I associated the song with anything, and when I finally fell in love with the song itself, was during the Monterey Pop festival movie and the separate DVD of just his performance. His performance at that first rock festival was electric. It was watching life. You can't take your eyes off of him and when he sings this song, you are filled with the same love and emotion that he exudes on stage.

The track is fairly standard as soul songs go. His backing band is filled with some of musics greatest session workers of the time including Steve Cropper on guitar, Donald "Duck" Dunn on bass and soon to be legend in his own right, Isaac Hayes. Sonically the song goes through waves and swells of horns accentuating the vocal performance that Redding delivers. The passion in Otis' voice is outstanding and is what makes the track so electrifying and identifiable. You feel his passion toward whomever he is singing about and in turn, if you are loving someone, you can relate to this passion. Like many of rocks early visionaries, Otis Redding passed on way too young. He died in a plane crash along with his band he was touring with, The Bar-Kays. Such promise lost early.

"I've Been Loving You Too Long" is easily one of my favorite love songs. It's about not wanting to give in, unlike Bob Dylan who was ready for it to end. Sometimes love is that important that you just don't want it to stop. When Otis Redding sings about it, you can understand why.

Up Next: Higher powers know what The Beach Boys would be without this song

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