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One Night Stand

I can't remember hearing Sam Cooke (1931-64) for the first time. As a kid, we didn't do gospel, & his pop was before my time (still his music I care for least). But I have had him on constant play for at least 30 years, especially him with the gospel quartet Soul Stirrers. Along with having one of the most compelling voices in popular music, he wrote "A Change Is Gonna Come," "You Send Me," "Twistin' the Night Away," produced, pioneered & still managed to be murdered at age 33.

Possibly my all-time favorite record (not songs but a record as a whole) is One Night Stand: Sam Cooke Live at the Harlem Square Club (which is in Miami, not New York, by the way). It has King Curtis on sax & Sam singing free and dirty somewhere between gospel & pop.

In "Somebody Have Mercy," he gets an amazing gospel high when he shouts "lord have mercy!" When he tells the ecstatic crowd that he's going to "grab me an armful of Greyhound & riiiiide," it's sexy, lonely, defiant: Who else can put so much into a single word, in the middle of a line? In the same song, he rebuts a current rumor when he answers "tell me what is wrong with me" with "it ain't that leukemia, that ain't it." I love to hear singers say their own names in a song: "that ain't all that Sam will do for you," he kills us in "Bring it on home to me."

Just go get it, OK?
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