Try a Little Tenderness

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This article is about the song. For the John Osborne play, see Try a Little Tenderness (play).
"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"
Released November 14, 1966
Format 7" 45 RPM
Recorded Stax Studios, Memphis, Tennessee: 1966
Genre Soul
Length 3:46 (Album version)
3:20 (Single version)
Label Volt/Atco
Writer(s) Jimmy Campbell and Reg Connelly
Harry M. Woods
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"

"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). Both Ruth Etting and Bing Crosby recorded it in 1933.

Subsequent recordings and performances were done by such recording artists as Otis Redding, Pat O'Malley in Jack Hylton's Big Band, Eddie Cantor, Little Miss Cornshucks (1951), Michael Buble, Jimmy Durante, Frank Sinatra, Mel Tormé, Rod Stewart, Frankie Laine, Percy Sledge, Earl Grant, Al Jarreau, Sheena Easton, Rita Reys, Nina Simone, Etta James, Tina Turner, Three Dog Night, John Miles and Andrew Strong, the Von Bondies, Cássia Eller, Florence and the Machine, and Cyndi Lauper (live at the White House). It was also performed by a studio orchestra during the opening credits of Dr. Strangelove and by Dr. John and Bennie Wallace on the Bull Durham soundtrack, and it was sung by Chris Brown for the movie This Christmas.

Aretha Franklin covered the song in 1962 for her LP The Tender, the Moving, the Swinging Aretha Franklin, on Columbia Records. After hearing it, Sam Cooke added it to his live shows, as can be heard on his live LP Sam Cooke at the Copa (1964). In Cooke's version, only two verses are included, as part of a medley (with "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons" and "You Send Me").

Otis Redding version[edit]

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.[1] 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". This version peaked at #25 on the Billboard Hot 100. 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.

Three Dog Night version[edit]

Three Dog Night released a version of the song, which peaked at #29 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1969.[2] It is a copy of Redding's interpretation of the song, including the coda that was added in Redding's version.


  1. ^ Bowman, Rob (1997). Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story of Stax Records. New York: Schirmer Trade. ISBN 0-8256-7284-8. Pg. 105-1072
  2. ^ "Try a Little Tenderness (song by Three Dog Night) ••• Music VF, US & UK hits charts". Retrieved 2016-07-26. 

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