Sam & Janis

“Darling, you – oo-oo-ooo send me. I know you – oo-oo-ooo send me. Darling, you – oo-oo-oo send me. Honest you do, honest you do, honest you do. Whoa – oh – oh-oh-oh-oh.”

Can you hear the voice?

That “sophisticated, crystalline” voice with the “remarkable spiritual resonance”? (Jason Ankeny, All Music Guide to Rock)

The voice belongs to Sam Cooke and the song quoted was “You Send Me,” his first and only #1 hit record, released in 1957. Besides singing it, he also wrote it.

He went on to write and record a string of fabulous songs including: “Chain Gang,” “Cupid,” “Twistin’ The Night Away,” “Having A Party” and “Bring It On Home To Me.”

Sam Cooke was born Samuel Cook on January 22, 1931 in Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was the fourth child of the Reverend Charles and Annie May Cook. He made his first record as a member of The Soul Stirrers in 1951. From 1957, when he started recording as a secular “pop” singer, until his murder on December 11, 1964, Sam’s voice became recognized as “one of the most indelible and influential sounds ever captured on record.” (Joseph F. Laredo, liner notes to Sam Cooke: Greatest Hits on RCA Records)

I couldn’t agree more.

Now try this one.

“Busted flat in Baton Rouge, waitin’ for a train, when I’m feelin’ nearly faded as my jeans. Bobby thumbed a diesel down, just before it rained. He wrote a song on the way into New Orleans.”

Can you hear that voice?

Many adjectives have been used to describe it, none of which would be used in reference to Sam Cooke’s voice. But then Sam was never called “the greatest white female Rock singer of the 1960s.” (Richie Unterberger, All Music Guide to Rock)

That title belongs to Janis Joplin.

The song quoted above was “Me And Bobby McGee,” penned by Kris Krisofferson. Janis’ version was released as a single in 1971 and became a posthumous #1 hit.

Born on January 19, 1943 in Port Arthur, Texas, her father, Seth Joplin, described her as “one of the first revolutionary youth.” It couldn’t have been easy to be a revolutionary youth in Port Arthur, Texas in the late-1950s and early-60s. After several years of singing in Texas bars, she travelled to San Francisco, CA, in 1966 and became lead singer for the band Big Brother and the Holding Company.

She and the band played at the Monterey (California) International Pop Festival in the summer of 1967, a year before they released their first album. Her rendition of  Big Mama Thornton’s “Ball and Chain” is featured in D.A. Pennebaker’s documentary film Monterey Pop, and is, in my humble opinion, one of the all-time greatest rock performances on film. Janis is devastatingly mesmerizing. Very Highly Recommended.

Janis Joplin passed away unexpectedly on October 4, 1970 in Los Angeles, CA.

Sam & Janis.

Two of my most favorite singers. Incredible voices silenced far too soon.

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1 Response to Sam & Janis

  1. TPS says:

    Janis was the blackest-sounding white woman ever! Love her voice and her passion. Sam Cooke had what it took to cross over back in a time when it just didn’t happen very often. You are right, Eric. Both cut down in their primes.

    We lost another great guitarist today. Gary Moore died in Spain at age 58.
    Maaan he had some smokin’ blues riffs for an Irish boy. I was hoping I’d get a chance to see him sometime….

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