Sunday, December 22, 2013

Christmas Music Part 2 - Merry Christmas Baby

This is part 2 of will likely be a running series of posts of Christmas music.  This time, I’ll talk about Otis Redding’s version of “ Merry Christmas Baby”.

The original version of the song is Johnny Moore’s Three Trailblazer’s (featuring Charles Brown on Vox and Keys) “Merry Christmas Baby” is fairly typical of West Coast Rhythm and Blues:



On the Westside, they tended to be more laid back, almost languid when compared to the Eastside. In some ways that holds true today. Compare Snoop Dogg to Eminem or Ice Cube to Chuck D. 

Charles Brown actually recorded a jazzier solo version of this song:



Most covers tend to be as bluesy as the Johnny Moore original. Here is Elvis’ version:



The bluesiest that Booker T & The MG’s might have ever gotten was with their cover of this song.



One of the interesting things about the original is that there’s this tension between the slow blues music combined with pretty happy lyrics. With Otis’ version, it’s as if he realized that this is a happy song, so why are we sounding so depressed? Again, Otis completely transforms the song to suit him.



Again, this song represents one big reason that Otis Redding is my favourite singer. He was a master at reinventing songs.

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