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Excerpt 2 From Stanley Booth Interview Series Vol 1: Otis Redding

Posted: Nov 23, 2008

Excerpt 2 From Vol 1 of Mystery And Manners' Stanley Booth Interview Series
11/23/08

In continuation of yesterday's ongoing Interview Series with Stanley Booth, I thought I'd include the following bit of my interview with Booth talking about his friendship with Otis Redding. This picks up exactly where yesterday's dialogue left off.

Stanley Booth: ...If somebody like Duane Allman could tell Wilson Pickett 'If you got the balls to do this Paul McCartney song ("Hey Jude")...' That put it on the table. It was a brilliant thing. I haven't seen anything as moving as that since then. Anyway, Otis got out of the car and saw me standing there writing in a notebook. He smiled. I told him who I was and we shook hands. He introduced himself. I followed him into the studio and never left his side until he left every day. He just energized that whole studio. I mean, STAX studio was strange anyway because it was a movie theatre. The floors sloped. There was a level floor where they sold popcorn and tickets. Then the whole studio...

James Calemine: ...Was either uphill or downhill...

SB: Yes, was either uphill or downhill. I don't remember feeling any sensation of falling, but Otis, Steve Cropper and me got three chairs together and sat in the middle of this sloping floor. Otis had this little bright red Sears & Roebuck guitar. The front of it was broken--like somebody stepped on it. He started plucking away on it. He sang: 'Sittin' in the mornin' sun/I'll be sittin' when the evenin' comes.' He said, 'But he's just sitting--that's all I got. I just got him sitting there.'

Little by little he put together that song. Steve just translated the chords. I talked to Otis in the times when they weren't actively working. Otis developed the thing a little more: 'Watchin' the ships roll in/Then I watch them roll away again.' I asked him something...I hope it wasn't as simple minded as 'What is your goal?' It was a question like that--'What are you trying to accomplish?' Otis said, 'I want to fill that silent vacuum that was left when Sam Cooke died...'

It only gets better. Perhaps tomorrow I'll include another snippet of Volume 1 of The Interview Series with Stanley Booth talking about Otis Redding. Until then,

James Calemine

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