‘How are we going to make that work?’: Moment of inspiration sparked a familiar Stax hit

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Steve Cropper’s first reaction when Eddie Floyd said he wanted to write something about superstitions was rather circumspect: “Doesn’t Stevie Wonder already have a song about that?”

The resulting sessions, of course, would produce a No. 28 pop hit called “Knock on Wood.” The song also spent a week atop the R&B charts in 1966.

“He wanted to write a song about rabbit’s feet, and throwing salt over your shoulder, breaking the champagne glasses, walking under ladders, opening umbrellas and all of that kind of stuff,” Cropper says. “I thought: ‘Hmm, how are we going to make that work?’ Then I thought about it, and I said: ‘Eddie, what do people normally do for good luck? They knock on wood!'”

Of course, they ended up needing more good luck when Cropper got stuck on the intro. Eventually, he settled on playing a riff similar to the one Cropper employed on Wilson Pickett’s 1966 charttopper “In the Midnight Hour” — only memorably played backwards.

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