For the last few days, a couple of albums by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers have been in what MTV used to call "heavy rotation" on my computer. Most people of my age remember Cooke for such pop classics as "You Send Me," "Chain Gang," and lots of other hits. But before he got worldly, Cooke sang lead with a gospel group, and these recordings get down in my blood and bone the way only good gospel can get into someone who grew up in a little Methodist church in East Texas. I'd rather hear these songs than anything Cooke recorded after he became famous and started selling millions of records. You don't have to have grown up like I did to start shouting "Amen" and "Hallelujah" when you hear songs like these. At least I don't think you do.
Cooke's sad and mysterious death adds a little poignancy to listening to these songs. I think they're the best work Cooke ever did. Check 'em out if you can.