Saturday, January 14, 2006

Sam Cooke: Babydaddy

I'm slowly working my way through Dream Boogie, Peter Guralnick's thoroughly-researched biography of Sam Cooke. I thought it would be an easier read, having read Guralnick's captivating two volume biography of Elvis Presley. Unfortunately the subject of the book comes across as highly secretive. Guralnick does his best to grasp Cooke's personality- he had access to Cooke's family archives and interviewed close personal friends that previous biographers had not- but during his lifetime Cooke made it hard for anyone to get a sense of his actual self.

Cooke played it cool, almost too cool at times. He also was capable of extreme ruthlessness and curelty, especially toward women. Cooke fathered several children out of wedlock while with the Soul Stirrers, proving once again the hypocrisy of organized religion. I guess since the women weren't married it wasn't adultery. The still-unfolding story I'm reading of his relationship with his childhood sweetheart is particularly heartbreaking in that it seems the love is unrequited; as written by Guralnick Cooke approaches the marriage as one of convenience that makes good business sense. But I'm insistent on finishing this before moving on to the other books lined up on my reading list.

No comments: