What You’ve Done: Sam Cooke, 1963

From the first three notes leading to the tonic F-major chord, Get Yourself Another Fool by Sam Cooke immediately places the listener in a setting that only the best soul and gospel songs can: a refuge where one can accept both relief and resignation, a quiet space where one can feel comfort in discomfort. The bluesy…

fun fact!

Released originally in 1932 and 1933, Try A Little Tenderness found a new home in Otis Redding’s soulful 1966 version: Otis’ idol Sam Cooke, though, had already begun to incorporate the song as a part of his regular live shows. Here it is from his seminal 1964 performance at the Copa in NYC:

Little Bitty Brother: Otis Redding, 1965

Ranked #74 in Rolling Stone magazine’s 500 greatest albums of all time, Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul is considered a masterpiece by the soul singer Otis Redding. The album — famed for having been cut in a span of 24 hours between July 9 and July 10 of 1965 — contains original hits like Respect, I’ve Been Loving…

Mine At Last: Etta James, 1960

I can’t not talk about this song. Yes, it’s trite, overplayed, and overheard; it’s cliche and sentimental. But it is all these things because it has stood the test of time. At Last by Etta James was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 and remains the most memorable version of a composition…

Just Hold On: Etymology, Part 2

It’s time to dig again into the nature of the genre of soul music. When one looks up the definition of “soul music” — not “soul” as we had investigated before — online, one finds various versions with some common elements. Google calls soul music a kind of music incorporating elements of rhythm and blues and gospel music,…

fun fact!

Growing up, Aretha Franklin quickly befriended — and admired — another soul singer whose steps she would follow away from gospel and toward pop. His name was Sam Cooke.

Another Start: Leon Bridges, 2015

It’s really exciting when I hear a new sound from an artist I’ve never heard of before, especially if the artist abides by the soul tradition. Sometimes I would dig a little more deeply only to find out that the artist really isn’t new at all, and that the artist is new only to me. …

fun fact!

Sam Cooke was good friends with Cassius Clay, who today is better known as Muhammad Ali. Here is a clip of the two friends during the prime of their careers:

Be Made Whole: Sam Cooke, 1956

We return to the figure who launched our journey, the same legend who we now know added the “e” at the end of his last name to make sure he stands out from the rest.  Why he is still considered one of the most influential artists in music requires a look into his life. The…

fun fact!

When he was a teenager, Sam Cooke added the “e” at the end of his last name “Cook” to make sure he stood out from the rest.

Long Time Comin’: Sam Cooke, 1964

To launch this journey, we look at what has become the anthem of American civil rights movement, A Change is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke (1963).