Under the (Parental) Influence: Sam Cooke

It’s that time of year where many of us honor those dudes who knocked up our mothers. That’s right, it’s Father’s Day. That said, I figure a good way to honor my father is to share some more music that I’m grateful he forced on my ears.

Among all the Elvis and the ol’ crooners, my dad definitely mixed in some soul. Out of all that, Sam Cooke is the one that stands out for me. He’s also rather well known as one of the pioneers of soul music, so maybe that has something to do with it. Either way, I heard quite a bit of Sam Cooke when I was younger. One thing I clearly remember is that whenever I heard “Chain Gang” I would love to accentuate the “Hooh”s and “Aah”s. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, peep the video and educate yourself.

Now imagine a little me walking around singing, “Hooh! Aaah!” along with the song. I guarantee you that it was fucking adorable.

One thing I love about reflecting on these artists that I grew up having to listen to is that I always seem to learn something about the artist I didn’t know. Much like Patsy Cline, I never realized that Sam Cooke died rather young too, just 33 years old. Of course, the circumstances were much different between the two. Where Cline died in a plane crash at the top of her career, Cooke was shot dead in a motel office wearing nothing but a sports jacket and shoes. Not really the best way to be remembered I suppose.

Aside from learning that Cooke died so young, I also learned about the whole controversy over his death. So the story goes, Cooke busts into the motel office questioning the office manager, Bertha, about the whereabouts of the woman he was with. In an inebriated rage, he attacks poor Bertha, she fights him off and she shoots him in the chest. Then apparently beat him with a broom stick as he made his final assault. The controversy lies with a large sum of money that was never found and the testimony of the woman he was with. That woman was also busted for prostitution a month later. So who knows if that’s what really happened. In the end, we’ll never know Mr. Cooke’s side of the story, but people will always have their questions. If you’re interested in reading a detailed breakdown of his death and the conspiracy surrounding it, check this out.

When it all comes down, we can put aside his crazy death and enjoy the music. So, sit back and enjoy some music.

Recommended Listening
The Man Who Invented Soul is a rather good starting point for those looking for the familiar hits. It’s available on Spotify here and is what I’m listening to as I write this.

I also can’t not recommend checking out Live at the Harlem Square Club because it is such a fun recording. It’s actually the last half of the fourth disc in The Man Who Invented Soul box set, but I feel it deserves a separate mention. This album alone adds him to a list of the deceased that I wish I could have seen live. Again, if you have Spotify, you can listen to it here.

More Under the (Parental) Influence


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