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Dreams to Remember: Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  167 ratings  ·  23 reviews
When he died in one of rock's string of tragic plane crashes, Otis Redding was only twenty-six, yet already the avatar of a new kind of soul music. The beating heart of Memphis-based Stax Records, he had risen to fame belting out gospel-flecked blues in stage performances that seemed to ignite not only a room but an entire generation. If Berry Gordy's black-owned kingdom i ...more
Paperback, 416 pages
Published May 17th 2016 by Liveright (first published May 25th 2015)
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Cold Cream 'n' Roses
Jun 09, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: R&B music fans
Shelves: music
I found Dreams to Remember repetitive. Despite the subtitle Otis Redding, Stax Records, and the Transformation of Southern Soul, this book is not really about Stax Records. If you want to read the story of Stax Records, read Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. Dreams to Remember would have been more interesting had it explored in more detail the social backdrop of Macon, Georgia, from where Otis Redding, Little Richard, and James Brown emerged. ...more
I'm not a huge fan of the bro-y language and tone that pops up every once in a while, and it is super clear that the reader on the audio has never listened to soul music for all his mispronunciations. DNF at 45%. Too bad because Otis is my man. I'll find his story elsewhere.
Dan Shonka
Sep 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. Mark Ribowsky gives a solid and detailed story of Otis Redding's short but talent-ladened life. He does an especially good job of giving the reader the good and the bad of Otis Redding's life and career. However, Mr. Ribowsky states throughout the book that Redding changed the music scene. He presents several events as evidence, and in my opinion, the case he makes falls short of convincing. Did Redding have an impact on the music? Sure. Did he set a ...more
Rick Elinson
I am very happy that Ribowsky has written a book about Otis Redding, a favorite singer of mine. My college roommate was into R&B, so he wanted to go to an Otis Redding concert spring 1967 in Baltimore. Three white guys and an Asian were a peculiar-looking group there, but it was memorable!
Ribowsky's book is odd. He writes in popular culture style, but wants to be a historian. The book is larded with facts about recording sessions, contract arrangements, record company histories, and concerts, i
Bonnye Reed
Jun 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: keepers
XXX I received a copy of Dreams to Remember by Mark Ribowsky on August 11 as a Goodreads Giveaway from W.W. Norton & Company. Otis is one of my heroes - thank you so much for sharing this biography with me!

Because he died so young, there was little information out there about Otis Redding and his family. I was pleased to be able to fill in the blanks of the life of a gentleman who shared such talent with his listeners, and fronted some of the changes in Blues and Rock through the 1960's.

This bo
Sep 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Where was I on December 10, 1967? What part of me died? What part of me still clings to the dreams I remember? That was another time. That was another day. I used to believe that Otis Redding was the reincarnation of Buddy Holly. Otis sang sad songs happy; Buddy, happy songs sad. (OK, ignore physical time. It doesn't exist anyway.) Sing on brother...
Jeffrey Bumiller
Mar 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a fantastic read for any music fan. Ribowsky's writing is very good, but sometimes the level of detail is suffocating. Perhaps this book could have used another edit? Regardless, if you are an Otis Redding fan, this is a must read.
Erin Cataldi
Aug 11, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2017, rockin-reads
I love music biography's but this one felt lacking to me. It wasn't solely about Otis Redding (only about 95% him.....) and talked a lot about Stax Records and a few other soul singers (but only in relation to Otis). It was very clinical and skimmed over a lot of Otis' life in favor of talking about his recording sessions, rumors about his infidelities and death, and his managers and music companies. This book lacked soul. It was flat, one dimensional, and unexciting. Which is a shame, it's the ...more
Mark Singer
Jul 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I liked this book more than I expected based on the other reviews. I found it to be a solid addition to the Stax books "Respect Yourself" and "Soulsville", with a more Otis centric focus.

I especially liked the way he handled the Loretta Williams "allegations" against Otis. Presenting them, but presenting them as her story, as opposed to solid story recognizing that there is really no way to know what exactly happened.
Oct 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017-read-books
Very interesting stories.
Apr 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
This is an interesting read. I was in Memphis last week, so my head was full of music and stories of the heyday of the Memphis sound when I read it. Very good. Thanks to Goodreads!
Feb 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It was an interesting exercise to read this book so close in time to when I read Otis Redding: An Unfinished Life since they are both about Otis Redding. There are overlaps between the two books with details of his life. While Unfinished Life focused more on the history of the music and civil rights, Dreams is more about Otis the artist. One books shows a Redding who is struggling to find his way in the world and the other portrays a supremely confident man who always got what he wanted. I enjoy ...more
Retha Cameron
I just completed reading Dreams To Remember, and I have to say that it was one of the most enjoyable and informative books I have encountered in some time. Mark Ribowsky gives us an in depth look at the life and career of Otis Redding. We get to understand his childhood and relationship with his father, and we learn how this shaped him into the man he would become. His journey in the music world, and his talents as a songwriter and as what amounts to a producer and arranger are well detailed. Th ...more
The basis of this book is clearly many in depth interviews which provides narrative grounding, pace and authenticity. To the author's credit he mostly avoids the trap of having a fragmented, patchy, stitched feel. He also does a good job of locating Stax and Redding's story within the context of the time. He allows the stories to collectively paint the portrait of a complicated man at the cusp of historic racial changes in the US. It was always going to be a haunting story and a tragic one. The ...more
Dec 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A really interesting book about Otis Redding's journey to stardom (and his untimely death at age 26), Stax Records, and the early soul music scene. I knew very little of Otis Redding beyond "Sittin' On The Dock Of The Bay," I don't even think I knew that it was released posthumously. I also didn't realize how many of his songs were covered by other artists so I thought they were written by others. While I really liked this book, I felt like it didn't go into his personal life as deeply as I woul ...more
Matt Carton
Thoroughly enjoyable. Otis's music has played a major part in my life. As I was reading the book, and it was inching closer to December 1967, I was hoping it would slow down. But alas.

11/21: Downgraded this to 3 stars after completing Robert Gordon's "Respect Yourself."
Jennifer Jowsey
Won this from a goodreads giveaway. The book sounded good, so I entered the giveaway with the intent to give this to a friend who loves all kinds of music. Did not read it myself, but it made a great gift.
Oct 17, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all readers
Recommended to Brent by: CArlos Museum Bookshop and Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
I liked this a lot, though there are inherent problems in writing about a short life, especially one at the center of dispute over a legacy, like in this case. Stax is much loved, and Otis Redding even more. I want to listen to Otis again now.
Aug 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Informative and entertaining read, almost as good (in my opinion only) as the author's previous bio on Howard Cosell.
Christy Faucheux
Jun 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I won this book as a Goodreads Giveaway. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about one of my favorite artists, Otis Redding. Although it was a bit repetitive at times, I still loved it. Great book!
Sep 26, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well written and researched by an author with a great vocabulary. Sometimes a bit repetitive and adulatory though...
Apr 24, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
A good read about Otis Redding and Sax Records. Fits well with other books about soul music and the south.
May 29, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Probably best for varsity-level fans -- but there are many far worse things to be.
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Chris Jones
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Dec 10, 2018
rated it it was ok
Oct 04, 2017
Jen de la Osa
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May 31, 2016
Amy S
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Jun 02, 2015
Sandi Worthen
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Sep 28, 2015
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Mark Ribowsky is the author of seven books, including the New York Times Notable Book Don't Look Back: Satchel Paige in the Shadows of Baseball. He lives in Plainview, New York.

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