It’s weird, as a non-baby boomer to think some of our legends have more than a half century old legacy. Sam Cooke crossed from Gospel to Secular Music 59 years ago this Spring, and by 1959, the handsome Crooner at 29 was the sophisticated sex symbol of Black Urban Progress, knocking out songs that provided the romance within the daily lives of average experience. Alongside general thrill Jackie Wilson, his efforts were something that set the template for the acres of soulful storytelling that would unfold throughout the 1960’s.
It might be a bit of a surprise that I’m going with one of his most oft-dismissed efforts of his career, but “Everybody Likes To Cha Cha Cha” was a prime example of how Cooke, the songwriter, was a great objective observer of social trends. In actuality, within its frothy late 50’s exuberance, it documents the cultural immersion of 1950’s America in one of the most popular forms of dance from a non-white bread source. The everybody-ness of this dance trend presages all of the dance hall hits of the Early-Mid 60’s up into dances that become part of our hip shaking lexicon nearly 60 years later.
I’d challenge you to find as peerless an example that documents the joy of learning the dance of the moment as objectively and lovingly as this song though. It shouldn’t surprise you that it really is Sam Cooke playing documentarian; the fictionalized account came from a Christmas 1958 party where in fact, everyone, including Sam’s daughter Linda knew how to do the Cha-Cha.
And One Two…One Two…and up now….and back now…..