About The Song

“Dock of the Bay” was based on a few thoughts and lines Redding came up with during some time he spent sitting and watching the ocean in California. He took these ideas back to Memphis, where he and collaborator/producer Steve Cropper ended up making one of the most famous soul records of all time. In an interview on NPR’s Fresh Air, Cropper explained how he and Redding came to write the song.

Knowing these details and not thinking something much deeper was involved might serve to shatter the song’s mystique for some of us. “Dock of the Bay” is so universal, about trying to find the beauty in life despite the hopelessness and despair we all have dealt with. The lyric speaks to the human condition, the emotional turmoil so common to all of us, with lines like I’ve had nothing to live for/Look like nothing’s gonna come my wayLooks like nothing’s gonna change/Everything still remains the same, and Sittin’ here resting my bones/And this loneliness won’t leave me alone. Redding and Cropper may not have been depressed when they wrote it, but they came up with a song that we can all identify with and that has stood the test of time. Everything has, indeed, pretty much remained the same.

Shortly after recording the song, Redding died in a plane crash on December 10, 1967, and the song became the first posthumous number one record in chart history. “Dock of the Bay” ended up being named the sixth most-played song of the 20th century by BMI. In a testament to its influence on so many artists, this great song has since been covered by numerous artists, ranging from some of Redding’s peers to artists like Pearl Jam and Garth Brooks.

See also  Otis Redding - I've Been Loving You Too Long

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Lyrics

Sittin’ in the mornin’ sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evenin’ comes
Watching the ships roll in
Then I watch ’em roll away again, yeah
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time
I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the Frisco Bay
‘Cause I’ve had nothin’ to live for
It look like nothin’s gonna come my way
So I’m just gon’ sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay, wastin’ time
Look like nothin’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, yes
Sittin’ here restin’ my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone, listen
Two thousand miles, I roam
Just to make this dock my home
Now I’m just gon’ sit, at the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh yeah
Sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time