Dream Boogie: The Triumph of Sam Cooke

Peter Guralnick, Author . Little, Brown $27.95 (748p) ISBN 978-0-316-37794-2

There's no real substitute for the sound of Sam Cooke's music, but the detailed descriptions of his recordings throughout this masterful biography are the next best thing to wearing headphones while you read. Guralnick's first book after a two-volume bio of Elvis honors Cooke's (1931–1964) musical genius, especially his ability to grasp the changing music scene of the late 1950s and early '60s. For those who only know the singer through his pop hits—"You Send Me"; "Twistin' the Night Away"—the extensive account of his childhood background in gospel music will prove fascinating, and the evocation of the harsh realities faced by African-American musicians touring the South a powerful reminder of just how explosive this music could be. Yet wide-ranging interviews reveal that behind Cooke's talent and energetic vocal style, many of his peers in the music biz saw a more troubling personality. The biography does not judge, but neither does it hold back on recounting Cooke's ruthless interactions with record companies or the deep rifts in his marriage to his former childhood sweetheart. Guralnick's revelation of the complicated man behind the music ultimately enables readers to rediscover songs like "A Change Is Gonna Come" as even more remarkable than before. Photos. (Oct. 18)

Reviewed on: 07/25/2005
Release date: 10/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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