On December 7th, 1967 Otis Redding went into the studio to do a final pass of the song (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay
Otis had been renting a houseboat at the when he was writing this song with co-writer Steve Cropper. The houseboat was parked at Waldo Point in Sausalito, California. It was because of this that Otis demanded the sounds of waves crashing and seagulls withing the track.
Steve Cropper spoke about writing the song in an interview:
“Otis was one of those the kind of guy who had 100 ideas. […] He had been in San Francisco doing The Fillmore. And the story that I got he was renting boathouse or stayed at a boathouse or something and that’s where he got the idea of the ships coming in the bay there. And that’s about all he had: “I watch the ships come in and I watch them roll away again.” I just took that… and I finished the lyrics. If you listen to the songs I collaborated with Otis, most of the lyrics are about him. […] Otis didn’t really write about himself but I did. Songs like “Mr. Pitiful,” “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)”; they were about Otis and Otis’ life. “Dock of the Bay” was exactly that: “I left my home in Georgia, headed for the Frisco Bay” was all about him going out to San Francisco to perform.”
Perhaps the most interesting fact about this song was the fact that the whistling herd at the end of the song wasn’t meant to be there. Originally Otis had intended to adlib some lyrics and just the whistling as a placeholder. Unfortunately, Otis never got to finish the recording because he died in a plane crash just three days later on December 10th.
(Sittin’ on the) Dock of the Bay went on to be Otis Reddingsbiggest hit.