Try A Little Tenderness – Otis Redding | Top 40 Chart Performance, Story and Song Meaning

Chart Performance: Pop (#25) and R&B (#4); 1967

Story Behind The Song By Ed Osborne

Lovers who swooned to Try A Little Tenderness at the height of the Depression couldn’t possibly have imagined that one day it would be achieve its definitive interpretation as a rough Southern soul classic.

The man who’d breathe fire into Tenderness was born in Dawson, Georgia, and recorded one indie single with the Shooters and one on his own. At the tail end of a session at Stax in the Fall of 1963 with the Pinetoppers, Otis Redding recorded a song he’d written called These Arms Of Mine.

Arms made some noise the following Spring, then two years passed before I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) and Respect moved Otis into soul music’s top tier of artists.

Along the way, Otis closely studied records by the Beatles, Dylan, and Sam Cooke. Late in 1966, Otis released his version of the 1932 evergreen he’d encountered on Cooke’s 1964 Live At The Copa album: Try A Little Tenderness.

This content and all Song Meaning articles were created and written by Top 40 Contributing Editor Ed Osborne. © 2024 Ed Osborne. All Rights Reserved. In addition to these song meaning articles, Ed has written our “Year in Music 1960s-1990s” articles.

Produced by:

  • Jim Stewart
  • Isaac Hayes
  • Booker T. & the M.G.’s

Lyrics Written by:

  • Jimmy Campbell
  • Reg Connelly
  • Harry M. Woods


  • Nominated for Grammy Awards for Best Rhythm & Blues Song in 1968
  • Inducted posthumously for Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
  • Inducted posthumously for Black Music & Entertainment Walk of Fame
  • Inducted posthumously for  Songwriters Hall of Fame