This song almost didn’t get made. The tragic reason for this is that Otis Redding was killed in a plane crash less than a month after the song was recorded.
In fact, the plane crash was December 10th 1967, and the last session Redding got a chance to record for this song was December 7th. He had actually planned to go back and finish the song.
The producer, Steve Cropper, had to finish the song after Otis’ death.
The song is melancholic in a particular despondent way. It’s about a guy just sitting there watching the boats out of boredom, to get away from it all. So the feeling is like a guy kicking a stone or something like that.
The music itself is in that vein. It isn’t sullen, but it isn’t a triumphant song either. The vocals are great, and really convey the emotion of the lyrics. The rest of the song is simple, but that’s good. It means that nothing is taken away from Otis’ performance. The melodies really follow him, from the horns, the guitar, and the bass.
The song was released posthumously in 1968 on an album of the same name, and became a #1 hit. It also won two Grammies.
Taken from us too soon.