Friday, February 09, 2007

"the man who invented soul"

Fitzy sends me.

He sent me this Sam Cooke clip from American Bandstand because the song got in his head after reading something I wrote him.

Little does he know...(he'll know now) this particular clip has major significance to me. In the year 2000, I went to L.A. with my dad, who grew up there. We were all giddy to check out the Museum of Television and Radio in Beverly Hills. You can get yourself a lil' secluded station with a monitor and access 50 years of television within minutes. I, of course, went straight to the American Bandstands of old. I pulled up Bobby Darin, the Jackson Five and .... Sam Cooke.

(this is before YouTube, you hafta remember. so this access felt so goddamn special--a pop culture treasure hunt.)

I knew I liked the man with that smooth, impeccable delivery who sang "Cupid" and "Chain Gang" but never knew much about him. Recently, I had been learning more about him and his music. I found out that he, like so many other black soul artists, sang gospel before going secular/pop which upset many of his early, religious fans. But what most impressed me was that he was not only an amazing performer, but a brilliant songwriter as well. So damn rare for that era. His stirring, emotional "A Change Is Gonna Come" was the black version of "Blowing in the Wind," (which he said "should have been written by a black man") and he was extremely active in civil rights. And, most disturbing of all, his sudden death. Getting shot in a motel under bizarre circumstances...was such an unjust way for a musical legend to go (Marvin Gaye: same shit, John

SO..........watching the man do his thing. For the first time. With over sized, old school headphones, in a lil' cubicle...I saw him perform this song in its entirety.

I cried, and cried and couldn't stop. It was him--his presence, his movements, his smile. The way he sauntered on to the stage, he was superfuckingcool. The coolest. I finally could see the man in motion, set to the voice I adored. The Voice--the phrasing, the tone, that velvet touch of soul. Unlike anyone else. And, of course, thinking of his death (he was only 32 years old, fer chissakes), the senselessness of it...made me blubber, too. But it was his music that moved me. It was a strange feeling to be sitting there, alone, in a library-like setting, just sobbing silently. Watching and hearing Mr. Cooke, The Man Who Invented Soul (that's the perfect name of my Sam Cooke box set) will do that to a girl like me.

Thanks, Fitzy.
(...and you alone were meant for me)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Sam Cooke is the baddest mother fucker who ever lived-Joshua