1960

CHAIN GANG * SAM COOKE * RCA 1202 * UK

Originally known as the grunting song! This self penned social comment and subtle critique of the situation of prisoners kept chained and confined in barbaric, near slave-like conditions, marked a radical departure from the sentiments of his previous recordings. Though it was recorded at Sam Cooke's first session with RCA it was his third single for for the label as the corporation wouldn't release it for six months. Interestingly existing data shows that in 1926, for example, Black Americans comprised barely 21 percent of the prison population. But in each subsequent decade, with almost clock-work precision, the percentage has increased by an average of five percent, and by 1950, whites represented 65 percent of the prison population, while blacks represented 35 percent, still, white inmates were in the majority until at least 1964. Then, by the close of the century, the opposite was true, with whites composing 35 percent of those imprisoned and blacks, who were just over 13 percent of the general population, accounting for nearly 65 percent of those in prison. Maybe Sam Cooke had wind of this change in prison demographics, or it could have just been about his revulsion to the conditions that compelled him to write and record such a song, whatever the reason it's a great record and gave many a view of another side of the man and a mark of things to come.

See also:

A Change Is Gonna Come Another Saturday Night Bring It On Home To Me
I Wish You Love Itís All Right Little Red Rooster Love Will Find A Way Sad Mood
Win Your Love For Me Little Things You Do Only Sixteen You Send Me I'm Just A Country Boy

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