SONG TITLE: HOLDING ON TO YOU contemplative Otis Redding photo









COMMENTS: Though he was only in his 20s, Otis showed the wisdom and understanding of someone much older. At a certain point, you have made a great investment in a relationship, and you have a stake. You don't just get mad and throw that away. A wise man will go to great lengths to preserve the union, doing everything possible to understand the partner's concerns, and give in as much as he can.


Black and white Otis Redding concert photoHe wrote a slow, heavy soul ballad to express the determination to stay the course. "I've been loving you too long to stop now." The measured pace bespeaks a long haul, and the contemplative phrasing of the melody suggests that he knows that keeping a relationship alive year after year is a great challenge. There is one peak moment in the tune, where he reaches up for "but I will tryyyyyyyyyy," that packs in all the weariness and determination of his soul.


Well, not all of it -the horn section has as much to do with the musical and emotional expression of the record as Redding's vocal. The classic Stax house band was perhaps the greatest and most soulfully expressive horn section in the history of modern pop music, and they developed a unique style just for Otis Redding ballads that didn't quite show up with any other singer they backed. There is a sad poignance, and a nicely understated dramatic effect you won't find anywhere else.


TTD wrote a big ballad for the Vibrator album with a striking emotional similarity. There is a similar theme of romantic realism, the necessity of determined effort that is required to make a relationship work. He has some similar sounding horn charts, something of a tribute to Redding's spirit.


The similarity is more striking because "Holding on to You" doesn't sound specifically very much like Redding. Other than the horns, it doesn't sound much like any other artist or even any other TTD song. He has the advantage of superior '90's recording technology, and he has really absorbed fully the sophisticated studio recording philosophy of the Beatles and the Beach Boys. Generally the closest artist to his production style is Prince, but this song especially doesn't sound at all like Mr. Nelson. Terence Trent D'Arby image


He creates layers of carefully integrated sound, unusual combinations of instruments, styles and effects built up separately from song to song. On top of the basic soul song, he adds a beautiful fluid rock guitar, compliments of a Mr. Louis Metoyer whose outstanding work on this album demands a name check. During his big soaring guitar solo, they add a vibraphone playing a counter melody with a very different contrasting emotional flavor. In short, TTD really made a record.


The emotional tone compares to "I've Been Loving You Too Long," but the melody and the vocal styling comes off closer to Al Green. It has longer, fuller melody lines than the Redding classic. By the climax, he has built up to some sweet preaching, exhorting the congregation.


Which is interesting, because the congregation whose behavior he seeks to affect is himself. The obstacles to happiness in his relationship come from his own lingering obsessions with past lovers. "They say that all poets must have an unrequited love, as all lovers must have thought provoking fears. But holding on to you means letting sorrows heal, means letting go of what's not real."


Terence Trent D'Arby-Sananda Maitreya Images  2  3  4  5  6 



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