Otis is the man tonight, the man that brings in the vibes and calms the room. He brought cigarettes and coffee, he brought his girl and a dock by the bay. He is singing, and all that is dead is alive and all that is alive is dancing. He tells me his story, he plays me his songs, and I am here to hear it, because his love, his loss, is my love and my loss. We are the same because we believe in the same, the soul and heart, the movement of the notes and the movement of the body. He is my guide tonight on the ship of tranquility and I am setting sail, toward the sunset, crying about the past and laughing at the future. Mr. Redding is ready, and when the captain says it’s time to depart, you leave. For the memories you fear being left on the shore, are not as sweet as the ones he pulls out on the ocean. We are sitting on the dock of the bay watching ships go by, and we about to board one, and see where it takes us.
“I got dreams, dreams to remember.” Damn you man, that one hurts, that one stings. “Honey I saw you there last night, another man’s arms holding you tight”. Why you got to start it out like that man? Why you got to be that way? But Brother Otis knows. He knows you can’t breathe in until you breathe out. You’s got to get that bad stuff out before you get that good stuff in. Get it out, cough it out. He makes you feel, he makes you look and stand, and then makes you cry as you crash to your knees. Brother Otis starts the night off hard, because he knows life is hard, and the only way you go through shit, is if you crash into it head first. And if you still alive after that, then you ready, then you ready for the good stuff, the stuff that makes the bad dreams go away, and makes the good ones appear. He sees his girl with another man, and he knows it was his fault, but he can’t change that, not now, not anymore. He just gotta get busy getting better, can’t let gravity get you down. You gotta get up and dust off, be better, do better.
“I got sunshine on a cloudy day”. Oh yeah man, now we talking, now we grooving. “It’s cold outside, but I got the month of May”. He done got him a girl, and man he loves her. He makes it sound good, like coffee and cigarettes, and he ain’t letting her go. He’s slow dancing with his gal, jamming to the sound of the song he’s now playing. You can see it, feel it. Hands holding hands, dancing around the kitchen with big ole smiles on his and his girl’s faces. Laughing, living, being all loving, dancing around the room and dancing around life. He’s talking about his girl, and he’s happy. Is this the girl he saw in another man’s arms before, and now she’s back? Or is this a new girl and now he’s alive again? It don’t matter, Otis is in the groove and he’s happy, and so am I.
“Sitting on the dock of the bay”. We going to reflect now I guess. Just watching those ships go by. Thinking about the people, thinking about all the things going on, and just sitting in the sand and watching. Mr. Redding teaching me to just chill man, just chill. It’s all goin’ to be alright, just let that ole sun hit your face and just let it smile on ya, and then when you ready, smile back, let out that goodness with what you know lives inside ya. Don’t let it sit down there and rot, let it out and let it grow.
“I was born by the river, in this little old tent” Hmmm, there it is, there’s the stuff. That’s the meat and potatoes, that the shit that sticks to your bones right there. Sam Cooke’s version is good, but I’ll be damn if Otis doesn’t make this song real. A change is gonna come. Yes sir, I feel ya, I hear ya. I gotta do it, I gotta be it. I gotta see the wrongs and make them right, I gotta hear the words and preach them out. Change is gonna come and I gotta get myself right, I need to find the peace and make it happen. Change is gonna come and I wanna be part of it. I need to find my bad and make it good, find by sad and make it gone.
“These arms of mine, they are lonely”. Man, he done come full circle again, talking about his arms, talking about his girl and where she should be. He’s lonely, maybe he sat at the dock of the bay and figured his shit out. Maybe he saw his bad and saw the change that needed to come. Otis seen it all, and he ain’t afraid to tell you, tell her. He done some bad, but it sounds like he ready to change. Don’t we all. We all done some bad, and we all got something we need to change, so let’s follow Otis, let’s make that change and change that tune. He done got me reflecting, thinking about all the things, all the change that I can do, and should do, and can do. Otis got me feeling sad, but not about the what I did and didn’t do, but what I can expect if I don’t do nothin’. He wants the change and he wants me to want it too, and who am I do tell the man no.
I’m done, done with Mr. Redding, done with the music for tonight. He was my captain down feelings lane, and who am I not to listen. Sit and think, love and hold, change and be changed. The man knows, and his word is truth. It hurts, but life hurts, but life feels good too man, just gotta do the work man, just gotta do the work. I’ll see you soon Otis, I see you at the dock again sometime. We can sit and talk, we can drink coffee at quarter till three in the morning. But I will be there, just like you were there, to remind me, to guide me, to change me.