Tuesday, January 26, 2021

"(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" by Michael Bolton

Song#:  3386
Date:  01/23/1988
Debut:  72
Peak:  11
Weeks:  17
Genre:  Pop, Adult Contemporary, Blue-Eyed Soul

Pop Bits:  Bolton's The Hunger album was his fifth solo attempt to break through to the masses and while it wasn't a major hit at the time, it was a significant step forward. The LP's first single, "That's What Love Is All About," became his first to crack the Pop Top 40 peaking at #19 (#3 AC). Then for a follow-up, this cover tune was issued out. It did even better by nearly making the Pop Top 10, stopping at the dreaded #11 spot, while getting to #12 Rock, #19 AC, and #58 R&B. The two hits helped the album sell well and get to #46. His next album, 1989's Soul Provider, would be a much bigger hit, which then led folks back to The Hunger. Late in '89, both albums would be certified gold sellers. The Hunger would go on to sell over 2 million copies.

ReduxReview:  Ugh, I have been dreading this one. Otis Redding's original was just so perfect. The arrangement, the production, the vocal, the lyrics, and especially the feeling that it exuded. Oh, and the whsitle...c'mon. Whenever I hear it, the tune just transports me. I want to grab a cocktail and make my way to a dock that jets out over a beautiful, peaceful body of water and just marvel at the world and life in general. You can feel exactly what Redding was writing about and the serene, mellow way the song was recorded only enhanced the experience. It was brilliant. Still is. Now, why on this blue/green earth would anyone want to cover this classic? I get that it probably influenced artists and it may have been a favorite, but besides just having fun and covering it in concert, why would someone just absolutely mess this up by recording a version of it? And releasing it as a single? Redding's sons did it (see below), but I can sort give a pass to that one as it was more of a tribute, but anyone else doing it is just not going to sit right with me. Bolton's take is certainly one of the worst. It's like he sucked the life blood out of the tune with an unnecessarily big arrangement and a caterwauling vocal that didn't make me want to sit on the dock of the bay, but jump off of it and swim away! It took everything that made the original so amazing and tossed it in the trash. Every second of it makes me cringe. Others apparently loved it and that's okay. If they can appreciate this song, even from this horrific remake, then at least Redding's art and legacy can live on. As for me, I'd be happy to never, ever hear this desecration of a classic again.

ReduxRating:  0/10

Trivia:  This is a remake of a song originally co-written (with Steve Cropper) and recorded by Otis Redding. Redding cut the track late in 1967. It was finished on December 7th. Three days later, Redding would die in a plane crash. The song was released as a single in January of '68 and it became an instant smash topping both the Pop and R&B charts. It would also go on to win two Grammys. The classic song would be covered by many artists with six versions reaching the Pop chart including ones by Sammy Hagar and The Reddings. Bolton's version has been the most successful of the remakes on the Pop chart and as of this posting date it has been the last one to chart. Bolton's version got a big nod of approval from Redding's widow Zelma. After hearing his version, she wrote Bolton a letter that said it was her all-time favorite cover version of the song.



  1. How did you like Otis Redding's version? Me I give it a 10/10, love the whistling at the end of the song, I also give Sammy Hagar's version a 5/10, for Michael Bolton's version I give it a 2/10, surprised it went #12 on the Rock charts.

    1. The original is obviously a 10. I've actually yet to hear a recorded version that truly does the song justice. Hagar's is meh. It includes weird, scary bird sounds for some odd reason. Al Jarreau's spacey jazz version is nearly unlistenable. Ohio Players try to funk it up, which doesn't work. Aaron Neville's is just okay. Even Peggy Lee's version has a really bizarre arrangement. I doubt anyone will capture the true feeling of the original, which is fine by me. It's the only one to hear.