image from staxmuseum.com
Writer(s): Steve Cropper/ Otis Redding (see lyrics here)
First charted: 27 January 1968
Peak: 14 US, #3 UK, #13 RB, #3 CB (Click for codes to singles charts.)
Sales (in millions): 1.0 US, -- UK, 1.0 world (includes US and UK)
Radio Airplay (in millions): 7.0 Video Airplay (in millions): 20.1
Review: There’s never been a better epitaph. Redding and six others died when his charter plane crashed into Lake Monona, near Madison, Wisconsin on December 10, 1967. WK On November 22, he‘d recorded “Dock of the Bay,” adding overdubs two days before his death.
“Using road weariness as its metaphor,” MA-18 Redding wrote an ode to his journey from Georgia to stardom, protesting against the guilt of wasting time, arguing in favor of relaxing, doing nothing, and just “watching the tide roll in and out.” WI-128
Fresh off the Monterey Pop Festival, Redding was playing the Fillmore in San Francisco while staying on a houseboat. Producer and guitarist Steve Cropper says this is where Otis “‘got the idea of the ship coming in...I took that and finished the lyrics. If you listen to the songs I wrote with Otis, most of the lyrics are about him…’Dock of the Bay’ was exactly that: ‘I left my home in Georgia, headed for the Frisco Bay’ was all about him going out to San Francisco to perform.’” WK
To add to the song’s coastal vibe, Cropper added seaside noises. One aspect of the song that wasn’t finished but was left alone was the now iconic whistling. Redding had hoped to add another verse, but after he died Cropper left the whistling in. BBC
Redding wasn’t new to the pop charts, having hit the top 40 more than a half dozen times, but most of his success had come on the R&B charts. However, this song topped the pop and R&B charts and became “the first posthumous number one single.” BR1-238
Resources and Related Links:
- Otis Redding’s DMDB Encyclopedia entry
- BBC BBC Radio 2 Songs of the Century (1999).
- BR1 Fred Bronson (2003). The Billboard Book of Number One Hits (5th edition) . New York, NY; Billboard Books.
- MA Dave Marsh (1989). The Heart of Rock and Soul: The 1001 Greatest Singles Ever Made. New York, NY; New American Library.
- WK Wikipedia
- WI Paul Williams (1993). Rock and Roll: The 100 Best Singles. New York, NY; Carroll & Graf Publishers, Inc.