Portrait of a Legend 1951-1964

Release date
17 Jun 2003
Running length
31 tracks
Running time


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    Track     Duration Listeners
1 Touch the Hem of His Garment 2:02 48,926
2 Lovable 2:27 37,028
3 You Send Me 2:46 177,670
4 Only Sixteen 2:11 87,011
5 (I Love You) for Sentimental Reasons 2:43 48,496
6 Just For You 2:21 40,464
7 Win Your Love for Me 2:45 53,500
8 Everybody Loves to Cha Cha 2:39 3,447
9 I'll Come Running Back to You 2:14 56,113
10 You Were Made for Me 2:52 47,423
11 Sad Mood 2:36 51,698
12 Cupid 2:41 193,837
13 (What a) Wonderful World 2:07 58,951
14 Chain Gang 2:35 136,882
15 Summertime 2:20 59,476
16 Little Red Rooster 2:53 46,315
17 Bring It on Home to Me 2:42 130,090
18 Nothing Can Change This Love 2:42 88,503
19 Sugar Dumpling 2:42 30,867
20 (Ain't That) Good News 2:28 28,528
21 Meet Me At Mary's Place 2:41 34,727
22 Twistin' the Night Away 2:40 123,881
23 Shake 2:50 34,864
24 Tennessee Waltz 3:09 31,217
25 Another Saturday Night 2:40 72,041
26 Good Times 2:26 42,834
27 Having a Party 2:34 75,325
28 That's Where It's At 2:35 32,941
29 A Change Is Gonna Come 3:13 244,579
30 Jesus Gave Me Water 2:29 27,958
31 Untitled 0:32 1,099

About this album

Sam Cooke was constantly writing. On napkins. In the car. In hotel rooms and, later, in a notebook he kept, filled with his sketches as well as his lyrics. When he was still with the Soul Stirrers, his friend and fellow gospel singer, J.W Alexander, manager of the Pilgrim Travellers, bought him a book on songwriting, and he absorbed its lessons: the function of verse and chorus, how to construct a bridge, above all the importance of simplicity -the key to a good song, he always insisted, was to write a melody that even little children could hum. At first he used the songs he was writing as a kind of social introduction. “We’d have a roomful of people sometimes,” said Soul Stirrers guitarist LeRoy Crume, “he’d get on my guitar and I’d sing back-up, and we’d sing all those songs to the ladies, try them out and see if they were acceptable. And for the most part they were!”

Of the thirty songs on this album Sam wrote or co-wrote twenty-four, and each bears his unmistakable stamp. What makes them so enduring for all of their evident simplicity is not just Sam’s inimitable singing style (“Sam Cooke was the best singer who ever lived, no con test,” said Atlantic Records vice president Jerry Wexler, who tried desperately to sign him at two different junctures in his career. “When I listen to him, I still can’t believe the things that he did”) but the emotion and craft he put info their composition. To Sam it wasn’t worth singing a song if you didn’t believe it.

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