The mutual appreciation society that existed between The Beatles and Otis Redding was strong. Although the Georgia soul man apparently never met the Fab Four, his influence on their changing style can clearly be heard in stripped-back funk-filled numbers like ‘Drive My Car’ and ‘Taxman’.
Redding himself was known to bust out a few Beatles covers in his own day. His approach to covers was more about feeling than verbatim recitation: famously, his take on The Rolling Stone’s ‘(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction’ is loose and completely divergent from the original, with barely half of the lyrics being the same between the two versions.
You can hear this approach in Redding’s Beatles covers as well. When he does ‘A Hard Day’s Night’, he dispenses with the McCartney-sung B section and instead sweats and strains to wring as much energy out of the song’s main A section as he can.
But when it came to killer Beatles covers, Redding’s finest hour is his take on ‘Day Tripper’. The Otis Redding experience is all about grit and manic energy, and nothing will get in the way of that, whether it’s song structure or lyrics or any recognisable aspects from the original recording. Redding was a deconstructionist, and his take on ‘Day Tripper’ finds the singer improvising all over the basic form of the song.
Redding sadly didn’t live long enough to see the influence he had on his fellow artists, both contemporary and in the modern-day. His hard-hitting version of soul and R&B music would later be adapted into the funk genre, while British artists that he covered took note of the excitement and stripped back sound of his versions and adapted them back to their own styles. The Beatles were no exception: every time you hear a brass section on a later-day Beatles record, there’s a chance that Otis’ DNA helped inform those decisions.