I’ve been saving this one because I think it is my all-time favourite record and I will feel sad when I have done it.
According to guitarist and producer Steve Cropper, Redding wrote the line ‘I watch the ships come in and I watch them roll away again’ while he was living on a houseboat in Sausalito, California, in August 1967. He and Cropper completed the lyrics and music and recorded the song on November 22 1967, doing additional overdubs on December 7. Three days later, on December 10, Redding died with four members of his band, the Bar-Kays, when their chartered light plane crashed in Lake Monona, Wisconsin. Cropper later added the sound of seagulls and waves as Redding had wanted. The single was released on January 8, 1968 and became the first posthumous No 1 in America. It reached No 3 in Britain.