Sunday, April 21, 2013

(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay


[Sittin' On] The Dock Of The Bay
Written by Otis Redding (vocal) and Steve Cropper (guitar). Sadly, one of the last songs Otis recorded before his tragic and untimely death on December 9, 1967 in a plane crash while touring.

From Wikipedia's entry for (Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay:
(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay is a song co-written by soul singer Otis Redding and guitarist Steve Cropper. It was first recorded by Otis Redding in 1967, just days before his death. It was released posthumously on Stax Records' Volt label in 1968 ...
(Boldface mine)

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All these links go to YouTube, unless otherwise noted.


Listen to how gentle and understated the performances are on the original recording, but filled with poignant emotion. That's why they call it soul, baby!


Steve Cropper wrote and performed this guitar part, and it's a terrific example of how to use barre and first position chords in a rhythm guitar part. This song also sounds sweet on the acoustic. 


By the one and only Donald "Duck" Dunn. He and Cropper were the definitive soul session duo, and this track is the perfect illustration.

Some of the videos below are "Play alongs," which can sometimes be a chance for the bassists to have a little fun and improvise parts that aren't on the original recording. Always form of inspiration, and some great performances, sometimes. 

Chords and Lyrics

I based my chart on Dock Of The Bay Chords (ver 2) by Otis Redding @ Ultimate-Guitar.Com. Remember to play gently, so you can hear the seagulls in the background...

Artist: Otis Redding
Song: (Sittin' on the) Dock Of the Bay


G x 4


G                      B
Sittin' in the morning sun

        C                C B Bb  A
I'll be sittin' when the evening come

G                       B
Watching the ships roll in,

       C                C B Bb A
then I watch them roll away   again, yeah


    G                          E
I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay

             G          E
watching the tide roll away

             G                          A
ooh I'm just sittin' on the dock of the bay

        G    E
wasting ti---ime


I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the Frisco bay
'Cause I've had nothing to live for
and look like nothing's gonna come my way


So I'm just gonna sit on the dock of the bay
watching the tide roll away, oooh
I'm sittin' on the dock of the bay
wasting time


G      D7      C
  Look like nothing's gonna change

G      D7         C
       Everything still remains the same

G      D7             C         G
     I can't do what ten people tell me to do

F                    D
   So I guess I'll remain the same


Sittin' here resting my bones
and this loneliness won't leave me alone
These 2000 miles I roamed
just to make this dock my home


Now I'm just gonna sit at the dock of the bay
watching the tide roll away, oooh
Sittin' on the dock of the bay
wasting time


[whistle over these two chords from  and fade out]
G     G     G     E (repeat)

How To Play - Tips

These suggestions will help you play in the spirit of the original recording. Of course, nothing says you can't play a metal version, or a reggae version, or whatever you like. If this is the case, please ignore the following tips and do it the way you want to. Otherwise, here are some ideas for you and the band.
  • Use a light touch. This is a gentle and wistful song. This is true for all the instruments, and especially the vocal part.
  • Rhythm Guitarist: if you are playing with a bassist or in a band, emphasize the top three strings (e b g). Mute and use a light touch, especially on the verse.
  • Groove: keep it relaxed. Slide up to the next note or chord for that smooth, rolling sound. Think of the ocean and the tides.
  • Sound: clean and open, like a breeze off the ocean. Try an acoustic for the rhythm guitar and a clean sound for the lead guitar part. There's also some tasty horns and keys on the original recording, but they don't come in until the chorus, so be patient.
  • Whistle: great if you can pull it off. Otherwise, could be a detriment. Consider playing this line on a guitar or another melody instrument if your whistle is weak.