First Hit #1: March 16, 1968
Otis Redding was, without question, one of the greatest singer/songwriters that America has ever produced. Yet, somehow, he never had a number one hit on the Hot 100 in his lifetime – at least not with him performing, though he wrote for other artists – only reaching the top of the charts after his untimely death in a plane crash. This posthumous single illustrates better than anything what a massive loss for music that plane crash represented, since it’s one of his signature songs and an outright classic. It’s a relatively calm song about loneliness and isolation, sitting somewhere between melancholy and almost sweet. In spite of it all, Redding gives the song a sense of optimism, with a whistle solo that gives a bit of a carefree edge to a song which is otherwise quite sad. He might never change, and he might just be sitting on the dock of the bay wasting time, but there’s still some hope and a bit of a carefree edge to the proceedings. It’s an uplifting song about isolation, which is nearly impossible but thoroughly rewarding nonetheless.