Measure For Measure: Major Melancholy

otis redding Place: San Francisco Date: August, 1967 Weather: Tangerine skies, with a continued chance of magic on into the night. It’s the Indian Summer of Love. In the Haight-Ashbury, ocean breezes tickle dreamcatchers and wind chimes in the porticos of painted ladies and head shops, carrying vague hints of incense and peppermints, patchouli and hashish down neon streets where paisley-clad gypsies roam. Guitars and tambourines keep the beat in Golden Gate Park by day. After dark, the Fillmore Auditorium hosts advanced seminars in psychedelia, courtesy the likes of The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane, Janis Joplin, Donovan, and Country Joe & the Fish. Vietnam may be raging and draft cards burning, but a visionary spirit of optimism fills the air. Across the Bay, Stax recording star Otis Redding — also headlining the Fillmore — has another take on things. Sitting on a houseboat in Sausalito, the 26-year-old soul icon opens his notebook and writes, “Sittin’ on the dock of the bay, watchin’ the tide roll away.” Redding, with a string of hits and an acclaimed performance at the Monterey Pop Festival under his belt, is flush with success, so it’s hard to say what prompts him to gaze out upon the picturesque beauty of San Francisco Bay and see reflections of failure and loneliness where Scottie McKenzie beheld a love-in. Whatever’s brewing inside, he’s about to turn it into an immortal hit. “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” belongs to a select group of melancholy songs in a major key. “Lodi” by John Fogerty and “Red, Red Wine” by Neil Diamond are two others. “Dock Of The Bay” may sound simple, but subtle poetry lies beneath the surface. Let’s consider just one aspect: rainbows. A rainbow is an arching melodic phrase.... Sign In to Keep Reading

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