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Try a Little Tenderness

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"Try a Little Tenderness"
Song by Ray Noble Orchestra
PublishedNovember 4, 1932 (1932-11-04) Campbell, Connelly & Co., Ltd.[1]
RecordedDecember 8, 1932
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, Henry Woods

"Try a Little Tenderness" is a song written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, and Harry M. Woods.

Early Versions[edit]

It was first recorded on December 8, 1932, by the Ray Noble Orchestra, with vocals by Val Rosing. Another version, also recorded in 1932, was made by Charlie Palloy & his Orchestra.[2] Ted Lewis (Columbia 2748 D) and Ruth Etting (Melotone 12625) had hits with it in 1933.[3] Bing Crosby also recorded it on January 9, 1933, for Brunswick Records.[4] A version by Bob and Alf Pearson was also released in 1933. The song appeared on Frank Sinatra's debut album, The Voice of Frank Sinatra, in 1946.[5]

Otis Redding version[edit]

"Try a Little Tenderness"
West German picture sleeve
Single by Otis Redding
from the album Complete & Unbelievable: The Otis Redding Dictionary of Soul
B-side"I'm Sick Y'all"
ReleasedNovember 14, 1966
StudioStax, Memphis, Tennessee
GenreSoul, jazz
Length3:51 (Album version)
3:20 (Single version)
Producer(s)Jim Stewart, Isaac Hayes, Booker T. & the M.G.'s
Otis Redding singles chronology
"Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)"
"Try a Little Tenderness"
"I Love You More Than Words Can Say"

A popular version in an entirely new form was recorded by soul artist Otis Redding in 1966. Redding was backed on his version by Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and Stax staff producer Isaac Hayes worked on the arrangement.[6] Redding's recording features a slow, soulful opening that eventually builds into a frenetic R&B conclusion, incorporating elements from the Duke EllingtonLee Gaines song "Just Squeeze Me (But Please Don't Tease Me)" as well as the words "sock it to me." In early 1967, it peaked at number 25 on the Billboard Hot 100.[7] It has been named on a number of "best songs of all time" lists, including those from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. It is in the 136th position on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time as of the list's 2021 update.[8] A live version performed in 1967 at the Monterey International Pop Festival was also recorded.

In the 1991 Irish film, The Commitments, the band performs the song in the style of Otis Redding. The version by The Commitments reached No. 13 in the Irish chart.[9] Redding's version was also sampled in the song "Otis", recorded by rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, from their album Watch the Throne. Additionally, it appears in the film Pretty in Pink, and was sung briefly by Eddie Murphy as Donkey in Shrek. D-TV set the Otis Redding version to Cinderella. Sam Cooke performed it live on his "Live at the Copa" album in July 1964 [10]

In 2015, the song was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.[11]


Chart (1967) Peak
Canada Top Singles (RPM)[12] 23
UK Singles (OCC)[13] 46
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[14] 4
US Billboard Hot 100[15] 25


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United Kingdom (BPI)[16] Silver 200,000
United States (RIAA)[17] Gold 500,000

Sales+streaming figures based on certification alone.

Three Dog Night version[edit]

Three Dog Night released a version of the song, which peaked at number 29 on the US Billboard Top 100 in 1969, and number 19 in Canada.[18] It borrows stylistically from Redding's interpretation of the song, including the coda that was added in Redding's version.

Dr. Strangelove[edit]

An instrumental version of the song is played during the opening credits of the 1964 film Dr. Strangelove over authentic footage of in-flight refueling of a U.S. Air Force B-52 bomber.


  1. ^ Library of Congress. Copyright Office. (1932). Catalog of Copyright Entries 1932 Musical Compositions New Series Vol 27 Pt 3 For the Year 1932. United States Copyright Office. U.S. Govt. Print. Off.
  2. ^ "Charlie Palloy Orch Try A Litle Tenderness". May 30, 1932. Retrieved May 30, 2021 – via Internet Archive.
  3. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 599. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  4. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  5. ^ Leigh, Spencer (2015). Frank Sinatra: An Extraordinary Life. McNidder and Grace Limited. ISBN 9780857160881. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  6. ^ Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York: Schirmer Trade. ISBN 0-8256-7284-8. Pg. 105-1072
  7. ^ "Otis Redding Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved December 16, 2017.
  8. ^ "500 Best Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. September 15, 2021. Retrieved March 10, 2022.
  9. ^ "Try A Luttle Tenderness". Irish Charts.
  10. ^ "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song) (Live)". YouTube.
  11. ^ "GRAMMY Hall Of Fame | Hall of Fame Artists". Grammy.com.
  12. ^ "Top RPM Singles: Issue 10038." RPM. Library and Archives Canada.
  13. ^ "Otis Redding: Artist Chart History". Official Charts Company.
  14. ^ "Otis Redding Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard.
  15. ^ "Otis Redding Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard.
  16. ^ "British single certifications – Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  17. ^ "American single certifications – Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 30, 2018.
  18. ^ "Try a Little Tenderness (song by Three Dog Night) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Musicvf.com. Retrieved July 26, 2016.