...we've got the means to make amends. I am lost, I'm no guide, but I'm by your side. (Pearl Jam, Leash)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

A convoluted trail to the pain in my heart

I always love a juicy story of a misappropriated song. It's terrible when someone else co-opts your writing and makes it their own, and it seems like back in the day there used to be more of it with less complainin'.

So I listened with great interest over on the excellent Grace Potter blog This Is Somewhere when they unearthed a forgotten tune by one Irma Thomas, a soul singer from New Orleans:

Ruler of My Heart - Irma Thomas

If you have an ounce of love in your soul for Mr. Otis Redding (as I do) then you might hear more than an echo of this:

Pain In My Heart - Otis Redding

He called it a "re-interpretation," and to be sure, his undeniable soul-drenched stamp is all over that. But sounds to me like Irma laid down those original foundations (along with songwriter Allen Toussaint) and may be due a little more credit than just a footnote.

The reason I got started down this whole rabbit trail was because Grace Potter does a pretty smashing cover of it herself, and introduces it as being "actually written by a woman, but performed most famously by a man."

Represent, fair Grace!

Pain In My Heart (live) - Grace Potter & The Nocturnals

And you must watch this live performance, she is ferociously rad:

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At March 20, 2008 2:49 PM, Blogger Andrew said...

I went to high school with her - she's a wonderful singer.

At March 20, 2008 3:28 PM, Anonymous kcortez said...

Thanks for the linkage/story Heather.

You turned me on to some great Otis stuff over a year ago so it's a litle musical payback goodwill on my part.

Go Otis - Go Grace!

At March 20, 2008 6:16 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I almost shot their show a week ago over in Chi.
well actually I had the show but I didn't know so I didnt go..

ya forget me explaining

At March 20, 2008 6:18 PM, Blogger carrjo2 said...

Grace Potter covers Pain In My Heart so well it makes Otis proud.

At March 21, 2008 12:52 PM, Blogger tipiboy said...

Oh hell yeah! Thanks Heather ... She sure does make it her own!

At March 21, 2008 5:20 PM, Blogger Lebrescos said...

That story you just told is huge. What a dick move on Otis Reading's part. Is it too late to take legal acoin against him. Seriously...and I like Otis' singing. This story totally changes my opinion of him. I now want to see if I can perform the song, just so I can tell the story of how Otis f-ed over Irma.

At March 24, 2008 5:14 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Irma Thomas is not forgotten! Have you seen the classic Jim Jarmusch film Down By Law? Then you'll remember this scene where Roberto Benini dances with his wife..."Drip, drop/Drip, drop"...From "It's Raining" by Irma Thomas. Look here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H_tif-W6pyM

The Stones also 'borrowed' their version of "Time is On My Side" off her.

She's well worth checking out.

At March 27, 2008 11:40 AM, Blogger Pat said...

According to Wikipedia, Ruler of My Heart was written by one Naomi Neville, a pseudonym of Allen Toussaint. And according to secondhandsongs.com, Pain in My Heart, originally credited to Otis Redding, was later credited to Naomi Neville, following legal proceedings.
I also seem to remember an episode of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour in which he referred to a song called Rain in My Heart, which was an influence on Ruler of My Heart. I'll try to check this out, as I may have imagined it


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