A Look Back At 5 Songs From Sam Cooke
Visionary and Genius
Sam Cooke was more than just any singer. He basically invented soul music thus earning himself the title King of Soul. Though his career lasted less than two decades only, he still managed to score a string of classic hits that solidified his spot as one of the most important figures in music. It was his contributions that helped shape the sound of the genre.
Unfortunately, he died a tragic death on December 11, 1964 when he was shot by Bertha Franklin, the manager of Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California. He was 33 years old.
Cooke was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame, National Rhythm and Blues Music Hall of Fame, as a charter member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. In celebration of his music and legacy, here are five of his greatest tracks.
5. Twistin’ the Night Away (1962)
It was an international hit and it’s no surprise. This upbeat number will definitely make anyone bust their dance moves. And it also shows Cooke’s diversity – he can go from ballads to dance tunes. When asked about his favorite singers, Cooke said: “Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Louis Armstrong and Pearl Bailey also have a strong feeling for the blues.”
4. You Send Me (1957)
This is Cooke’s debut single and it’s what helped propel him to superstardom. It was a massive success and it topped both the US Billboard Hot 100 and Rhythm & Blues Records chart. Rock icon Art Garfunkel spoke of the song and said, “I must have sung ‘You Send Me’ to myself walking up and down stairwells at least a thousand times. It was on the charts right when I was having my first little success with Paul Simon as Tom and Jerry. I was just a kid, calling on radio stations for promotional purposes, and all I heard was ‘You Send Me.’ Sam was great to sing along with. He was my hero.”
3. Cupid (1961)
Cooke’s producers asked him to write a song for a girl they saw on a Perry Como TV show. It didn’t crack the top 10 on the US Billboard Hot 100 but it was still a hit. The song has been covered countless times and in different styles.
2. Bring It on Home to Me (1962)
This has become a pop standard although Cooke’s original version was done in R&B style. According to engineer Al Schmitt, the recording was “a very happy session. Everybody was just having a ball. We were getting people out there [on the floor], and some of the outtakes were hilarious, there was so much ad lib that went on.” It peaked at #2 on the US Hot R&B Sides and #13 on the US Billboard Hot 100. Other cover versions that charted include that from The Monkees, Eddie Floyd, and Mickey Gilley.
1. A Change is Gonna Come (1964)
Inspired by Cooke’s personal experiences, it might just be a modest hit but it’s considered as his best composition. According to biographer Peter Guralnick, “It was less work than any song he’d ever written. It almost scared him that the song — it was almost as if the song were intended for somebody else. He grabbed it out of the air and it came to him whole, despite the fact that in many ways it’s probably the most complex song that he wrote. It was both singular — in the sense that you started out, ‘I was born by the river’ — but it also told the story both of a generation and of a people.”