Sitting on the Dock of The Bay


Otis Redding - "Sitting on the Dock of the Bay"
Otis Redding – “Sitting on the Dock of the Bay”

 

The Dock of the Bay
The Dock of the Bay

 

Photo of a man sitting, idling his time, on the dock of the bay.
Photo of a man sitting, idling his time, on the dock of the bay.
Map of Georgia, U.S.A.
Map of Georgia, U.S.A.

 

Atlanta, Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia

 

Map of San Francisco, U.S.A.
Map of San Francisco, U.S.A.

 

San Francisco Bay
San Francisco Bay

 

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point, San Francisco, U.S.A.
Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point, San Francisco, U.S.A.

 

San Francisco Bridge lit up with the night lights
San Francisco Bridge lit up with the night lights

 

Running away from one's Problems is a coward's way out.
Running away from one’s Problems is a coward’s way out.

 

Don't depend on anyone in this world - in the darkness of night even your own shadow leaves you.
Don’t depend on anyone in this world – in the darkness of night even your own shadow leaves you.

 

Never wait until it is too late....never regret anything in Life - Life is just too short for regrets!
Never wait until it is too late….never regret anything in Life – Life is just too short for regrets!

 

Time and Tide Wait for No Man.You cannot hope to turn back the hands of the clock.
Time and Tide Wait for No Man.
You cannot hope to turn back the hands of the clock.

 

Regret or Rejoice - the choice is all yours!
Regret or Rejoice – the choice is all yours!

 

Life is about Learning to Dance in the Rain.
Life is about Learning to Dance in the Rain.

 

“(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” – Otis Redding

 

Sittin’ in the morning sun
I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes
Watching the ships roll in
Then I watch them roll away again, yeah

 

 

I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m just sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

 

 

I left my home in Georgia
Headed for the Frisco Bay
Cuz I’ve had nothing to live for
And look like nothing’s gonna come my way

 

 

So, I’m just gon’ sit on the dock of the bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
I’m sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time

 

Looks like nothing’s gonna change
Everything still remains the same
I can’t do what ten people tell me to do
So I guess I’ll remain the same, listen

 

Sittin’ here resting my bones
And this loneliness won’t leave me alone, listen
Two thousand miles I roam
Just to make this dock my home, now

 

I’m just gon’ sit at the dock of a bay
Watchin’ the tide roll away, ooh
Sittin’ on the dock of the bay
Wastin’ time.

 

 

(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. The song shot to number one on the R&B charts in early 1968. The album, which shared the song’s title, was released and became his largest selling album to date, peaking at number four on the Pop Albums chart. “Dock of the Bay” went on to gain success in countries across the world and brought Redding the greatest success of his career. The song went on to win two Grammy AwardsBest R&B Song and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance.

 

 

This is a beautifully evocative song that is a typical portrayal of a man who imagines that “the grass is greener on the other side of the fence.” Unfortunately, as the case would have it, we know that Life is not all that it seems to be: we imagine that Life is all about “Days of Wine and Roses” and we might be tempted to feel that Life is all about “Seasons in the Sun.” The fact is that any given day is essentially unlike the other. No two days are ever exactly the same.

 

 

Wine is intoxicating and if consumed in excess, it can throw one into a drunken stupor and cause one to behave highly inappropriately and be a tad too outspoken. Roses are  beautiful flowers but they have prickly thorns that poke and cause much pain.

 

 

All the days of the year are not about the bliss of Spring and the joy and warmth of the many sunny days of Summer. Sometimes days that bespeak the windy autumn and the bitter cold and bleakness of winter are, more often than not, the typical scenario of our day-to-day lives. Life tends to be very unfair and disillusionment is just around the corner for most of us. The harsh realities of Life are likely to remove crudely and rapidly, “the blinkers from your eyes.” That is Life – the story our daily existence on this planet.

 

 

The protagonist of this song has traveled a distance of “two thousand miles” when he left Georgia to come to the San Francisco Bay. We can only surmise as to the possible reasons that made him undertake such a long and tedious journey.

 

 

He could have had a bitter argument with his parents, over a property dispute, several years ago, which made him leave Georgia after, “burning all his bridges” – a fact that made him alienate himself completely from his family for several years, at a stretch. He goes to San Francisco where he resides for many years but regret and shame keep rankling his being. One day, when he returns to his home-town, Georgia, with the intention of begging for forgiveness from his elderly parents, he finds his family home occupied by total strangers. These occupants tell the protagonist that both his parents have died horribly in a car crash – a tragic accident that occurred when their car plunged into a deep ravine due to some misjudgment on the part of the driver. The singer loses all hope of ever being able to reconciling himself with his parents now. He is plagued by grief, regret, shame and the self-doubt of not ever knowing if his parents had forgiven him or not. He feels that his life is not worth a nickel without the love of his parents and an intense loneliness take hold of him. He regrets his rashness and that he kept a needless grudge against his parents for so many years. It is obvious to him that he, the protagonist, was “never there” for his parents when they most needed his presence, love and understanding. He finds it very, very difficult to reconcile himself to this painful and inevitable truth.

 

 

Perhaps the protagonist is a fugitive from justice. He might have fled overnight his home-town of Georgia because he is, “wanted” by the police for embezzlement and fraud.

 

 

Perhaps the singer is a gambler and is trying desperately to escape the clutches of the dangerous Mafia. It seems more than likely that he has lost millions of dollars in heavy betting in one of the many casinos owned by the criminal underworld.

 

 

It is also quite likely that the singer had an acrimonious separation from his fiancé. Perhaps he decides to throw their “live-in” relationship of many years “to the winds” when he decides to leave Georgia for better and more lucrative job prospects in San Francisco. One day, it is possible that he receives a ‘phone call from his fiancé’s brother, informing him coldly that she is dead after fighting a losing battle, of many months, against a virulent form of ovarian cancer. The brother also does not neglect to tell the singer that his fiancé, though very angry at that time, had never given up hope that the protagonist would return home to Georgia and to her some sunny day.  Such a day never did come to pass – the protagonist was forever, “too busy” making his money to care.

 

 

Maybe the singer is himself suffering from a rare form of advanced leukemia. He travels many miles from his hometown in Georgia to San Francisco where he hopes to be treated by reputed oncologists there. Instead he is informed by the oncologist that he needn’t have come all that way at all; his cancer has metastasized all over his major organs. There can be no hope for a cure now. It is just too late. Doctors predict that he might live for a fortnight – at most.

 

 

Whatever the reason might be for the protagonist’s visit to the ‘ Frisco Bay from Georgia, the end result boils down to the same thing each and every time.

 

 

ONE CANNOT HOPE TO RUN AWAY FROM ONE’S PROBLEMS – your worries, fear, grief and regret follow you to the new place that you hope to live/work in. The new city will only offer a, “change of scene” at the most – it will not offer a permanent solution to your problems. The world will catch up with you some day – you cannot hide from your problems forever.

 

 

NEVER BE DEPENDENT ON ANYONE: SELF-RELIANCE AND INDEPENDENCE IS OF UTMOST IMPORTANCE. NEVER FORGET THAT PEOPLE TEND TO BE NOTORIOUSLY UNRELIABLE. LIFE IS EXTREMELY UNPREDICTABLE.

 

 

YOUR SHADOW WILL FOLLOW YOU WHEREVER YOU GO IN THE LIGHT OF DAYTIME BUT REMEMBER THAT EVEN YOUR OWN SHADOW LEAVES YOU WHEN THE DARKNESS OF NIGHT SETS IN.

 

 

PATIENCE IS A VIRTUE: THE FRUITS OF THE TREE OF PATIENCE ARE ALWAYS SWEET. HASTE MAKES WASTE. IMPULSIVENESS AND RASHNESS INVARIABLY END IN GUILT AND REGRET. LOOK BEFORE YOU LEAP; THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK – OTHER PEOPLE’S FEELINGS MATTER TOO. LIFE IS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU AND WHAT YOU WANT – THINK OF OTHER PEOPLE TOO. LEARN TO BE THOUGHTFUL, KIND, CARING AND CONSIDERATE.

 

 

WHATEVER DEEDS YOU ENACT TODAY WILL COME BACK TO BLESS OR HAUNT YOU AND YOURS SOMEDAY. LIFE IS AN ECHO – PEOPLE WILL NOT FORGET EITHER YOUR KINDNESS OR YOUR CALLOUSNESS. DO WRONG AND WATCH YOUR KARMA COME BACK TO YOU AND UNERRINGLY SLAP YOU IN THE FACE.

 

 

So when the singer sings of sitting idly on the dock of the bay, from morning till night, watching the ships and the tides roll endlessly in and out of the harbor, we begin to see how this man realizes, a tad too late, how he has to pay a heavy price for his selfishness and pride. If he has come to San Francisco in the hopes of finding a permanent solution to his problems, he finds instead that he is sadly mistaken. He knows that he is wasting precious time – he realizes that he ought to be doing something productive and fruitful with his life, instead of moping with self-pity and sadness.

 

 

Whatever view he chooses to take of the issue, at hand, the irrefutable fact is that Time has invariably passed him by. Even with the best of intentions, sometimes it is, “too late” to make amends for one’s misdeeds. If you want to make amends, do it without undue delay and do it graciously. After a long lapse of time, you ought to realize that the wronged person no longer needs or wants your apology. Such an apology becomes meaningless and would be better left unsaid.  Regret ensues: regret is a total waste of one’s time and energy.

 

It is so important to live one’s Life fruitfully – with love and kindness. Yet this author can’t help wondering when – or if at all – the world shall begin to accept and live their lives according to these words of unparalleled wisdom.

 

 

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