Monday, April 26, 2010

It's Gold Motel's Vinyl District!

This week we've asked the members of Gold Motel to toss out a few musical inspirations beyond the norm in these parts—those being vinyl and record stores—and they've come up with some interesting stuff indeed. First up, guitarist Eric Hehr. —Ed.

“My breaking heart and I agree / That you and I / Will never be

So with my best, my very best I am settin’ you free / Oh honey, / I wish you shelter from the storm / A cozy fire to keep you warm

Oh but most of all I wish you love. / But most of all, when snowflakes fall / I wish you love. / But most of all, when snowflakes fall, / I wish you love.”
—Sam Cooke, I Wish You Love

I could write volumes upon volumes on what Sam Cooke’s voice means to me. More so than any other vocalist – or musician for that matter – Sam Cooke has always hit my ears the hardest – has pulled my heartstrings the most. To me, his voice epitomizes perfection. It sums up that unexplainable sense of nostalgic wistfulness; evoking memories of youth, heartbreak, and evocative restlessness. Somewhere within his golden vocal chords, Sam Cooke was able to emulate the power of the soul into heart-felt notes and heart-breaking melodies that capture the core of emotional depth and sensitivity. His voice is spiritual and secular, sophisticated and effortless, passionate and strenuous, and is layered with an indefinable sense of feeling. Unfortunately, despite my attempts to try, the irrefutable beauty of Sam Cooke’s voice cannot be put into words.

Famed German writer, Goethe, put it the best when he said, “Music begins where words end.” Often, I find that the most beautiful things in life are also the most ambiguous. They defy logic and reason, and induce thoughts and emotions within us that cannot be rationalized or explained. They provoke us to reflect or react, and the music of Sam Cooke allows me to simultaneously do both.

Sam Cooke died violently under cheap and gaudy circumstances in Los Angeles in 1964 at the young age of thirty-three. At the time, Sam Cooke was called “The Black Elvis” for disguising soul and gospel music as mainstream pop music, the same way that Presley disguised pop music as soul and R&B. He was a prodigy across the board: a songwriter and a producer who owned his own publishing company and record label. He had more hit singles than most artist could ever wish for – most of which displayed gospel singing without reverence: “’Chain Gang,’ is one of the strangest pop records of all time and is taken for granted: a black-history buff moved by an actual Georgia road gang to purloin their sound and banalize their longing for freedom. “Who else but Cooke,” Talty asks, “could see this tableau, the prisoners chanting in a call-and-response pattern as old as slavery itself, and think ‘Top 40 hit’?” (The Village Voice).

At the height of his career, Cooke was at his lowest point in his personal life. He was lost spiritually, confused emotionally, and had taken comfort in excessive drinking and drug use. His indulgences led him to a lonely death in a shoddy motel room; a bottle of whiskey and a copy of The Bible found lying next to each other in the passenger seat of his car.

Perhaps the most charming aspect of Cooke’s music is also the most charming of his aspect of his life: it is both confident and tragic. It is both a representation of his glanderous pop dreams, and the internal emptiness of falling asleep next to cheap hookers; the righteousness of the Civil Rights movement and the swimming pool death of his one year old son. It is the embodiment of joyous late nights of infinity and bittersweet mornings of expiration; loneliness cloaked in bravado. If Elvis channeled the depths of gospel music through the soul stirring voice of a Southern white boy, Cooke held up the other half of the bargain. His voice and music is a poignant transparency that comes across as honest, naïve, and unpremeditated.
—Eric Hehr, Guitar | Gold Motel

Sam Cooke - You Send Me (Mp3)
Sam Cooke - (I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons (Mp3)
Sam Cooke - Summertime (Mp3)
Sam Cooke - Cupid (Mp3)
Sam Cooke - Sad Moon (Mp3)


Sam's Neph said...

Wow, your reaction to Sam's music tugged at MY heartstrings!

That being said, you're WAY off on what happened to Sam in his final days. While he may have been drinking more due to stress around the time of the death, I challenge you to find proof of any drug use. Sam abhored drugs and distanced himself from them. The "props" found in his car were just that.

There was a lot more going on behind the scenes in Sam's last days. Some of the things in your blog may make for great Hollywood drama, but they just weren't accurate in this case.

Sam Cooke died trying to hold on to what he created, not under the seedy circumstances so widely reported. The fact that he was worth more dead than alive to some people was the true tragedy.

Erik Greene
Author, "Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective"

Dave said...

If I had to pick one deceased artist to resurrect for a single, final performance, I'd pick Sam Cooke every time and twice on Sunday. No one did it better.

Frank said...

I'm not sure how I came across your site. But these Sam Cooke tunes just made my morning. Thank You!!