A very Otis Valentine’s Day

There are many sad, tragic and/or ironic endings bespotting the relatively short history of pop music. But one that, ahem, flies under the radar is the story of Otis Redding’s death.

It came a mere days after he recorded what would be his most famous hit, “Sittin’ On The Dock of The Bay.”

A stormy night. A plane crash. Dead at 26 years old.

It’s so sad to me that he didn’t get to see how soothing this song would be to so many people. It’s a hit, sure, but it is my favorite kind — a sad song wrapped in a melody that makes you feel good, that reminds you why you keep going.

I’ve been thinking about this story lately. Mostly because I am amazed at how young Otis Redding was when he died. It makes me worry that I’m not doing enough. Accomplishing enough. Am I wasting my time on things that may not really matter? I worry that I spent my twenties to fast. I know I didn’t, technically, but I worry about it as I start to settle in a new, greater sense of self-awareness.

“Where have I been this whole time?” I wonder. “Because I finally feel like I have arrived in this body, this life.”

While the back of my brain was gnawing on this yesterday,”Sittin’ On The Dock of the Bay” came on my playlist. At first my anxiety deepened because, damn, he died right after he recorded his most famous song — a song about wasting time! How many people have missed their opportunities like that because of timing?

Mmmm… That song though… I couldn’t stay in a state of panic too long if I tried… Not with Otis crooning his cathartic beachy blues…

I could look at this the other way, I thought: It’s a miracle he even recorded this song when death was so close. So many things nipped on the heels of people like Otis, but he made it, even if things were cut short. Every moment is a miracle, really. Whether we spend it sitting by the bay or knee deep in dream making. Worrying about it all is the ultimate waste.

After all, this is my first Valentine’s Day as a wife, something I became after walking down the aisle to another Otis song. However it all turns out, I have a lot of moments to be thankful for.

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