One of the often rewarding things about writing is the research and, sometimes in tandem, the serendipity. Eliot Smith, the main man in Eliot’s Tale, is someone for whom the music of his early years retains its hold on him, just as it does for many of us who came of age in the 60s and 70s. The music of those days became more than background sounds; it took an upfront and personal place in the culture and the time.
There came one point in the construction of the story that Eliot is driving hard, aimed at yet another destination where he believes that someone will aid him with his quest for understanding “things done and left undone.” He happens across a radio station that’s serving up a wholesome helping of classic soul music, and Eliot has settled into the groove. But just as the station begins to fade out, he hears the one and only Otis Redding launch into that stuttering killer opening: “These…arms…of…mine…” Realizing the need to hear all of that tune and others, Eliot digs out his prized copy of the big man’s greatest hits, which includes “Try A Little Tenderness,” “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” and “Respect”– which too many people don’t realize Otis wrote even though it was Aretha who scored big with it. Continue reading