AUK’s Chain Gang: Charlie Rich “Try A Little Tenderness”

So last week Vera Lynn asked us to ‘Try A Little Kindness.’ This week good old Charlie Rich (in his not-so-old days) asks us to ‘Try A Little Tenderness.’ Now, this song, written back in 1932 by Jimmy Campbell, Reg Connelly, and Harry M. Woods can certainly find its place on the list of the most recorded songs around. That list might not be definite, but some calculations speak of about 870 recordings.

The names of the artists who tackled it go from obscure to those most known like Aretha Franklin and Frank Sinatra – probably the one version that almost every ‘modern’ music fan is aware of is the sublime version by Otis Redding. Still, don’t discount the version from Charlie Rich, which originally appeared on his 1968 album ‘Set Me Free.’ In a way, it was an album that trail-blazed the way for Rich’s further career as an artist that was best described as soft pop Americana.

The thing is, Rich and Bill Sherill, his producer here, picked songs from various sources, including ‘Try A Little Tenderness’ , and coated it in a combination of sometimes lush, sometimes subtle orchestrations akin to those of Burt Bacharach or Jimmy Webb, all coated with that Nashville sound, something that so many artists picked up on later.

Here, Rich’s honey-sweet vocals glide over a Floyd Kramer-like piano and some subtle strings that enrich instead of overpowering Rich’s voice. An excellent version, no matter what.

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