I ran across a version of Otis Redding’s “Dock of the Bay” at a time when I needed it the most. I didn’t realize I needed it but sometimes life gives you little gifts to smile about.
On a site, Playing for Change, musicians from all over the world came together to lend their voices and musical talents just to help my spirits rise and give me a chance to have a productive day even if it is just sittin’ and smilin’.
This is my dark time of the year and not because it is still the predawn hours of the day. Depression and anxiety cloud my thoughts despite the clear morning, stars twinkling over my head. The days are lengthening but it will take time for the early morning sunlight to wash my depression away. I’m struggling for motivation to write, motivation to get out of my chair, and I can’t keep my train of thought on its tracks. My mind is like Ricochet Rabbit, bouncing from place to place without settling.
I am downright morose until I find joy in a simple song. A song about sitting in the sunlight…an ode to sunlight. I can hear the Redding’s whistle in my head, and it makes me smile, whistling away my dark clouds. Music does that sometimes…most times.
Redding was dead by the time “Sittin’ on the Dock of the Bay” hit number one. He recorded it just three days before a plane crash took his life on December 10, 1967. He was twenty-six and left behind a wife and four children. I remember lying in my twin bed, the transistor radio struggling to pick up late night WLS in distant Chicago when the news came through. Otis Redding killed in a plane crash along with four members of the group The Bar Kays. My own “day the music died.”
The song itself is melancholy but contains hope for me. “Sittin’ in the morning sun, I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes.” I can almost feel the sun on my face, the light shimmering across an emerald bay, a blue sky, and a sea breeze blowing in my face. Sea gulls mew and pirouette in my mind. Hopeful that I’ll get a chance to be “sittin’ when the evening comes” when the days of Summer lengthen. Sometimes there is productivity in “just wastin’ time.”
This 2011 version features Roger Ridley, a street singer and guitar player from Las Vegas, and New Orleans’ Street icon, Grampa Elliott Small. They are backed by musicians from across the world and I genuinely believe Otis Redding would be proud.
According to Wikipedia and the Playing for Change website, “Playing For Change (PFC) was founded in 2002 by Mark Johnson and Whitney Kroenke. Mark Johnson was walking in Santa Monica, California, when he heard the voice of Roger Ridley, who joined Redding in “Rock ‘n Roll Heaven” in 2005, singing “Stand by Me”; it was this experience that sent Playing For Change on its mission to connect the world through music.”
Travelling the world with a small film and recording team, producers Johnson and Enzo Buono developed a mobile recording studio (originally powered by golf cart batteries) for recording and filming musicians live outdoors, and progressively editing all the separate artists, blending all into one performance. Epic performances and epic editing.
I see the sun is out and calling me. Actually, a water leak is calling me, but it is outside, and a plumber is to join me after it warms up. It is bright but cold in the foothills of the Blue Ridge…but it is not a bad leak.
The sunlight is golden, and it is time for me to go out and bask in it, whistling as I go, a song looping in my head, a smile on my face. Thanks Otis, thanks Playing For Change.
Don Miller’s latest offering is “Pig Trails and Rabbit Holes”, available for download or in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/Pig-Trails-Rabbit-Holes-Southerner/dp/B09GQSNYL2/ref=sr_1_1?crid=FXC3AISNRIU7&keywords=pig+trails+and+rabbit+holes&qid=1640701551&s=books&sprefix=Pig+trails+an%2Cstripbooks%2C299&sr=1-1