“(Sittin’ On) the Dock of the Bay” - Memories and Loss for 50 Years


Otis Redding died in 1967, and his posthumous album “The Dock of the Bay” was released 50 years ago. I’ve been spending a some time listening to the album this last week.

The the album has some great pieces, the title song is the real keeper. “(Sittin’ on) the Dock of the Bay” [SOTDOTB] incorporates all the pain, loss and loneliness of someone rootless and unwanted. There was something about the way Otis Redding sang which makes you think he was older, wiser, and far more experienced than his 26yrs when he record it.

The story is that SOTDOTB was supposed to be the model of a whole collection of deeper, more introspective songs, but Redding died in a plane crash before it could be completed. The album instead was put together by Redding’s producer and co-songwriter, Steve Cropper, who included singles and B-sides from earlier in Redding’s career to supplement Redding’s signature piece. 

When I was 26, I was still just starting a career, and the barest idea of what I really wanted to do with my life. There was no way that I could have sung a song with the emotion that Redding put into SOTDOTB then and I think I would need another ten years from now to be able to do it justice.

This is, of course, if I could sing (which I can’t). But, you get the point.

Such a great song and a great album.