You Left the Water Running

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"You Left the Water Running"
Song by Otis Redding from the album Dreams to Remember: The Otis Redding Anthology (1998)
Released 1976
Format 7" single
Recorded July 1966
Fame Studios
(Muscle Shoals, Alabama)
Genre Soul, R&B, Soul blues
Length 2:47
Label Stone
Writer(s) Dan Penn, Rick Hall, Oscar Franks

"You Left the Water Running" is a soul music song written by Dan Penn, Rick Hall, and Oscar Franks which has been recorded by many artists, including Wilson Pickett, Barbara Lynn, Don Varner (1967), Billy Young, Maurice & Mac, Amazing Rhythm Aces, Bobby Hatfield, James & Bobby Purify, and Otis Redding.

Redding's connection to the song is documented by music journalist Dave Marsh in his 1989 book The Heart of Rock and Soul. In 1966, Redding was visiting FAME Studios in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, when studio owner Rick Hall requested Redding help them with an upcoming session. Wilson Pickett was to record "You Left the Water Running", and Hall wished for Redding to record a demo to assist with the production. A simple recording was made and Redding made some overdub additions, and Pickett made his recording similar to Redding's version.

Ten years later, Marsh was mailed a promo copy of "You Left the Water Running" by Otis Redding on Stone Records (the flipside was an instrumental called "The Otis Jam", which was produced by John Fred, of "Judy in Disguise (with Glasses)" fame). Marsh was fascinated by the song, and mentioned the new single to several friends, including his attorney, who also happened to represent the Otis Redding estate. He soon found out that Stone Records had not obtained the Redding family's permission to release the long-lost demo recording, and demanded the single be pulled from circulation.

When Marsh asked the label's distributor what was to become of the single, he was informed that they were to be destroyed. Instead, Marsh purchased the copies that remained, and gave them out as gifts, with the attorney's permission. As a result, the single (Stone 209) is now highly valuable.

Atlantic Records released "You Left the Water Running" for the first time legally on the compilation album The Otis Redding Story in 1987. Though that box set is no longer available, the song has appeared in similar collections in the years that have followed.

In popular culture[edit]

  • In Nick Hornby's novel High Fidelity, protagonist Rob Fleming is thrilled to purchase a copy of "You Left the Water Running", from a woman who is pawning her husband's albums at a very low price in retaliation for his infidelity.
  • In the 2009 TV series Cupid, episode 6, "Left of the Dial", the DJ, seeking the girl of his dreams, whom he has only spoken to on the phone, has one connection to her: a copy of the 45 she sent to him at the station some time before.



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