Taking on the dreamy, compelling sound of the lost soul decades is a damn high bar to set for yourself. Soul revivalists usually don’t get very far in my book, because what’s the point of competing with the likes of Sam Cooke and Otis Redding? Listening to Leon Bridges made me do a 180 on that stance. See, if you actually can hold a candle to legends like Cooke and Redding — and Bridges can — then there’s no reason not to indulge in some nostalgia.NPR has a first listen of Coming Home, Bridges' debut album, and you can see and hear plenty more of him on YouTube, from a live cover of Cooke's "Nothing Can Change This Love" to a solo performance of "Lisa Sawyer," a reflective song about his mother. [more inside]
Proceeding Otis by two years and 364 days, Sam Cooke was shot and killed on this day in 1964. Much controversy still surrounds his death, but his legacy is untouchable and influence sweeping. From gospel to pop, he did it all. You Send Me, Ain't That Good News, Cupid, Chain Gang, and Bring it on Home to Me were some of his biggest hits and (along with Ray's work) the early foundations of soul; but it was one song, inspired by a white boy's passion, that gave a posthumous voice to a broken nation. Today and forever, Sam Cooke is yours, he'll never grow old.
Try a Little Tenderness. Otis Redding owns the song, but it's had an interesting history. Ruth Etting, Bing Crosby [mp3], and Ted Lewis [Windows Media] recorded the song (with more lyrics) in the early '30s. An instrumental version was the opening theme for Dr. Strangelove. Tennessee Ernie Ford did the song on his variety show. And then there was Jack Webb's deadpan Dragnet-style version [Amazon sample].
Lou Rawls dies You'll never find... A "velvety baritone" like Lou Rawls, who died Friday of lung cancer at Cedars-Sinai in LA. He moved with his mother from Chicago in the 1950s, was a friend of Sam Cooke, and sang the National Anthem at Game 2 of the 2005 World Series in Chicago. Rawls sang with Sam Cooke, was awarded three Grammys, sold one platinum and five gold albums. He said: There are no limits to music, so why should I limit myself?"