There’s a special place in my music pantheon for Joe Cocker, who passed away yesterday at the age of 70. He came of age during a period when everyone wanted to be a “singer-songwriter,” but Joe Cocker was first and foremost a singer, an interpreter. He could take a Beatles song and make you hear it as something completely new. And the voice: instantly recognizable, sandpapery, rough, rich and as bluesy as they come. He was a natural, from the moment he stepped on the stage at Woodstock.
My favorite of his songs is the classic Feelin’ Alright, written by Dave Mason of Traffic. Here’s what I feel is the best version on YouTube, from a concert in Nürnberg, Germany. It’s a little more uptempo than the other available versions, and he’s in great form.
SNL fans will remember the famous skit where John Belushi imitated Cocker as they performed this song.
For more essential Joe Cocker, see this list of clips.
Farewell, Beautiful Man. You unchained my heart, and there ain’t no sunshine now you’re gone. I agree with Billy Joel, you should be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (How is it possible that you’re not???) Can’t wait to see you up there where you belong. Maybe with a little help from your friends.