Try a Little Tenderness

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"Try a Little Tenderness"
Published1932 by Robbins Music
Songwriter(s)Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly, Harry M. Woods

"Try a Little Tenderness" is a song written by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, and Harry M. Woods. It was first recorded on December 8, 1932, by the Ray Noble Orchestra (with vocals by Val Rosing). Ted Lewis (Columbia 2748 D) and Ruth Etting (Melotone 12625) had hits with it in 1933.[1] Bing Crosby also recorded it on January 9, 1933 for Brunswick Records.[2] A version by Bob and Alf Pearson was also released in 1933.

Otis Redding version[edit]

"Try a Little Tenderness"
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
Format7" 45 RPM
RecordedStax Studios, Memphis, Tennessee: 1966
GenreSoul, Jazz
Length3:46 (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.[3] 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." It peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100.[4] 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 204th position on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest songs of all time. A live version performed in 1967 at the Monterey International Pop Festival was also recorded.

This version was heavily influential in the 1991 Irish film The Commitments, at one point the band performed the song in the style of Otis Redding. It was also heavily sampled in the song "Otis", recorded by rappers Jay-Z and Kanye West, from their album Watch the Throne. Additionally, it appears in the films Dr. Strangelove and Pretty in Pink, and was sung briefly by Eddie Murphy as Donkey in Shrek. D-TV set the Otis Redding version to Cinderella.

Three Dog Night version[edit]

Three Dog Night released a version of the song, which peaked at #29 on the US Billboard Top 100 in 1969, and #19 in Canada.[5] It is a copy of Redding's interpretation of the song, including the coda that was added in Redding's version.


Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[6] Gold 500,000double-dagger

*sales figures based on certification alone
^shipments figures based on certification alone
double-daggersales+streaming figures based on certification alone


  1. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1986). Joel Whitburn's Pop Memories 1890-1954. Wisconsin, USA: Record Research Inc. p. 599. ISBN 0-89820-083-0.
  2. ^ "A Bing Crosby Discography". BING magazine. International Club Crosby. Retrieved September 3, 2017.
  3. ^ Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York: Schirmer Trade. ISBN 0-8256-7284-8. Pg. 105-1072
  4. ^ "Otis Redding Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved 16 December 2017.
  5. ^ "Try a Little Tenderness (song by Three Dog Night) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved 2016-07-26.
  6. ^ "American single certifications – Otis Redding – Try a Little Tenderness". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved November 30, 2018. If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Single, then click SEARCH. 

External links[edit]