Fire and Water Records: Sam Cooke

Cupid draw back your bow / and let your arrow go / straight to my listener’s ears so they can hear this all new episode of Fire and Water Records! In honor of Black History Month, Ryan Daly and special guest Herman Louw shine the spotlight on pioneering singer-songwriter, the King of Soul, Sam Cooke. Tune in as the guys share their favorite Sam Cooke hits (and misses) and discuss the legendary singer’s too-brief career ending in his controversial death. What’s Ryan’s favorite song of all time? What album does he think is perfect? Listen and find out!

Track list

  1. “You Send Me”
  2. “Another Saturday Night”
  3. “Cupid”
  4. “(What A) Wonderful World”
  5. “Only Sixteen”
  6. “Get Yourself Another Fool”
  7. “Twistin’ the Night Away”
  8. “A Change is Gonna Come”
  9. “Teenage Sonata”
  10. “Shake, Rattle and Roll”
  11. “Bring It On Home to Me”

Additional songs: “One More River to Cross” by The Soul Stirrers; “Meet Me At Mary’s Place”, “Having a Party”, “(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons”, “(Don’t Fight It) Feel It” (Live), “Bring It On Home to Me” (Live).

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Thanks for listening!

16 responses to “Fire and Water Records: Sam Cooke

  1. I am a fan of many of Sam Cooke’s songs listed here. I didn’t know he sang “Wonderful World” also. Was Louis Armstrong the creator and Sam just did a cover of this?

    1. While I like this Sam Cooke song (that I first heard in the movie “Witness” I think), I did get it confused with Louis Armstrong’s song of the same name.

      1. Yeah, two different songs. I think that’s why Cooke’s is usually written “(What A) Wonderful World” to differentiate.

  2. Sam Cooke is among my favorite soul artists, with a distinctive voice and extensive catalog of hits. Never thought about the similarity of “You Send Me” to Nat King Cole’s work, probably because he was from an older generation requiring a more delicate touch that isn’t my bag. Cole’s delivery would have been smoother and softer, where Cooke gives it more personality and is more effervescent in his delight as the track fades.

    As a comic book nerd, “Another Saturday Night” is probably the closest I could come to relating to a Cooke song, but I can’t make similar claims that “If I could meet ’em I could get ’em, but as yet I haven’t met ’em.” Otherwise though, sitting in your room alone on a weekend tracks with a lived stereotype.

    It’s hard to call a radio hit of sixty years featured in all media and commercials underrated, but “Cupid” feels like it’s slipped a bit into the memory hole. If only for Cooke’s forcefully delivery of “QuE-PID”, much less the rest of that gorgeous chorus, it should somehow come up more. Got to be at least a top five song referencing archery.

    Likewise, “(What A) Wonderful World” is a top tier song for geometry, and the number one trigonometry single of all time. It’s a very fun number marred only by its not being the best or most memorable song of the exact same title. Alternately, “Twistin’ the Night Away” is the best twist song, bar none.

    “Only Sixteen” and “Teenage Sonata” gets into the weeds. Never heard them before. Same with “Get Yourself Another Fool”, but it’s more my speed. The downtempo cover of “Shake, Rattle and Roll” doesn’t work for me at all. I recognize that’s it’s closer to the Big Joe Turner original, but Bill Haley & His Comets’ more famous version released the same week is clearly superior (regardless of Rolling Stone PC revisionism.) I know it’s a touchy subject, but this is a rare instance of the appropriating honkies doing it best.

    Seems like a good time to transition to “A Change is Gonna Come,” objectively Cooke’s greatest and most important song. My personal favorite, however, is “Bring It On Home to Me”.

    I try to avoid commenting on the guests, but I really appreciated Herman Louw’s tales of South Africa. I love hearing on-the-ground perspective on significant historical matters.

    Looking forward to Otis Redding when you get to him!

    1. Oh I agree about Herman. Always interested in hearing diverse experiences. He actually made me think I could make an FWR about French-language music work. FOR ETHNOLOGY!

        1. Hahaha, well I don’t need Ryan, believe it or not, we all share FW Records. I just need to find time in my schedule for something like that, and though I’ve planned, even partly recorded at least 2 episodes of FWR, nothing’s really worked out yet.

          Some day… some day…

  3. Great show fellas. Loved hearing Herman’s unique perspective on loving a black musician in a country in the midst of apartheid. Behind every good man is a cool mom.

    On a personal note, this has been a rough day for me, and hearing Sam Cooke just made it bearable. Thank you for that. “Soul” indeed. Off to listen to some more!


  4. Perfect timing. I unexpectedly found myself grooving to some Sam Cooke last week. So, I enjoyed the deep dive you just provided on his work.

  5. What a fantastic musician to cover this episode! He was such a great and soulful singer. I love a lot of Sam Cooke’s music like you both. I’ve only heard bits of his live music so I’m really interested to seek out that live album you guys talked about at the end.

    Great call out for Inner Space, Herman! I think I might be the same as you that that movie was my entry into Sam Cooke music. I’m sure my parents played his stuff around the house earlier, but that movie made me sit up and take notice how amazing those songs were.

    With the way his life ended, every ballad of his is tinged with (extra) melancholia, especially A Change Is Gonna Come. What a sad and terrible way to end for such an amazing artist.

    It was great to hear all your favourite songs and the stories behind them. This was so much fun! Keep up the great work!

  6. In defense of Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, “Young Girl” is a banger about not banging her. The whole point is that the girl looks like an adult once she’s all done up, and the POV character puts on the breaks despite the girl being DTF. It acknowledges lust, but ultimately comes down on the side of morality, which is less problematic than the vast majority of songs about playing ball on grassy fields.* Everybody else, from the Beatles to Winger, have a lot more cause for being defensive.

    As for “Only Sixteen,” the song clearly references that the former couple are the same age, so the whole tangent wasn’t really necessary in this context. It’s a seventeen year old shaking his head at himself from less than a year out from what he didn’t recognize as an under-reciprocated relationship.

    *An ironic phrase in a modern context, given our depilatory age would better indicate innocence rather than nubility with regard to the presence of secondary sexual characteristics.

  7. One of my favorites is “Everybody Loves To Cha-Cha-Cha”, but now I read it as a dig at the music industry’s need to make everything sound like whatever’s popular at the moment.

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