Monica Bielanko
That's What She Said
Just A Junk Drawer Dream
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Vintage Vinyl: Sam Cooke

When I first met Serge he was touring with his former band and had a gig in Salt Lake City. The next week I drove something like twenty hours to meet up with him in Texas as the band started to make its way back east.

We spent a couple nights together in Austin and, as people falling in love tend to do, we played each other all the music that was important to us at the time. That's the first time I heard Sam Cooke. When I heard the song Serge played I couldn't believe I had spent a whole life up until that point unaware of Sam Cooke. But, well, I grew up with a mom who rocked it out to Def Leppard and Whitesnake so there you go... Serge played the song as we sat in the band's tour van taking turns playing each other CDs. It was an overwhelming listen. I just bawled and bawled.

The song came out in 1963, the height of the Civil Rights movement. Cooke was the fifties and sixties version of Jay Z or P-Diddy in that he was one of the first black musicians to get into the business side of the industry by founding a record and publishing company. In 1963, Cooke's 18-month-old son wandered out of the house and drowned in the family's swimming pool. Cooke plummeted into a deep depression. A couple months after that he watched Martin Luther King, Jr. march in Washington and wrote "A Change Is Gonna Come."

A year after releasing "A Change Is Gonna Come" Sam Cooke was shot and killed under hinky circumstances, which basically amount to two women trying to rob him when he was just 33-years-old.

While "Chain Gang" and "Twistin' the Night Away" (watch this vid of Same Cooke performing Twistin.') are epic tunes, nothing compares to the anthem that is "A Change Is Gonna Come." Listen to it. It'll change your day, if not your life.