|From a backstage meeting during an engagement at the Copacabana.
PAULSEN -You 've been a top star in the music world for a long time, Sam. What sort of changes has success made in your life?
COOKE -Now I have less free time to myself, But it's given me more sense of responsibility. I find I can't do things without thinking
about them before I act. It's made me more of an adult. Many new subtlety have entered into my life. I can appreciate the various
shadings and tones of lire. Musically, I've improved. Five years ago I played the Copa. I had just come into the pop music business
and it was my third club date. I was still leaming. I was a student. I learned to take advantage of a lyric ...to look at a piece of music
and interpret it properly, ..to use contrast in my program, In my overall approach I learned how to entertain and get a message
across to the audience.
PAULSEN -What do you look for in a song?
COOKE -I like any song that has a good story. ..that says what it has to say simply. A repetitious phrase helps put the story
across. A song should have a lilting melody.
PAULSEN -You've written many of your biggest hits, Sam. How do you go about song-writing?
COOKE -I take a segment of life. Like, one night I went to the Peppermint Lounge and just wrote down what was going on around
me. Out of it came "Twisting The Night Away." I use phrases people say each day. Once I heard a guy saying " Another Saturday
Night and I ain't gat nobody." That gave me an idea for a song. At a party I heard a kid sar "Everybody cha-cha-cha," That gave
me another idea. I keep my ears open.
PAULSEN -What inspired rou to write "Red Rooster"?
COOKE -Actually I rewrote it. Howlin' Wolf did it long ago. It had a humorous, yet human message. The old blues singers used
bamyard characters to represent humans, particularly when it carne to mentioning sex.
PAULSEN -When you were younger and developing your vocal style, was there any singer whose sound influenced you to any
COOKE -Not consciously, Don. But every singer draws inadvertantly from everything he's heard and liked. For exarnple, he may
phrase like someone he's heard and not be aware of it.
PAULSEN -How would rou rate yourself as a singer?
COOKE -I consider myself an interpreter of lyrics. I try to keep a good sense of timing so I can phrase the way I want and come out
on the right note at the end. I developed this ability when I was singing spirituals. Like, you had to add a few more words to a
chorus to put the message across emphatically, and still come out on time at the end.
PAULSEN -Is there a relation between gospel music and rhythm & blues?
COOKE -They are directly related. Most R&B and gospel is tinged with country music. Rock 'n' roll is influenced by every musical
PAULSEN -Has rhythm 'n' blues influenced jazz?
COOKE -Yes, Jazzmen are playing R&B tunes and doing them better, "Drown In My Own Tears" is taken directly from R&B.
PAULSEN -Who are same of your jazz favorites?
COOKE -I like this thing by Getz, "The Girl From Ipanema." And Ramsey Lewis. He sits down and says something. ..says it
churchy. It comes out and gets to me.
PAULSEN -I'd appreciate your opinion of the following performers. First, Ray Charles.
COOKE -Fantastic. He interprets the way he feels. He lives in a world of sound. His ears are more acute. You and I, our eyes
sometimes distract us. But Ray Charles is versed in sound. That's the reason for his intense style.
PAULSEN -Your opinion of James Brown.
COOKE -He sings from his heart and lets it go.
PAULSEN -Bobby Bland.
COOKE -He knows consciously what he's going to do in advance. His emotion is more premeditated, but it comes across
PAULSEN -Frank Sinatra.
COOKE -One of the best interpreters of lyrics. He has the ability to tell a story.
PAULSEN -Who are some of your favorite singers?
COOKE -Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker. Louis Armstrong and Pearl Bailey also have a strong feeling for the blues.
PAULSEN -Why does rhythm & blues appeal to younger people?
COOKE -When a kid is young he expects a lot out of life. Rhythm 'n' blues is the most fervent sound in pop music. When a person
gets older he understands there's only so much to be gotten out of life. He doesn't have to have excitement all the time. He can
take things with less intensity... hence his appreciation of jazz.
PAULSEN -Do rou believe rhythm 'n' blues is the folk music of today?
COOKE -A lot of it reflects the things people sar and do -like "Why Don't You Do Right" or "I'm Going To Bali Tonight." The music
bas more fervor. Sometimes song writers will use symbolism to say things they couldn't come right out and say. Or they use
double meanings, like when Dinah Washington sings about her dentist: "He thrills me when he drills me."
PAULSEN -Why is the harmonica so popular?
COOKE -It's a basic sound. It moves everybody. It kept Jimmy Reed existing for years even when he failed to get the message of
the lyrics across.
PAULSEN -Do you have anything to say to the critics of teen music?
COOKE -People often misunderstand different forms of music. Each is to be used in the proper context. Most pop music is for
dancing, It has a fervent drive and beat. It's not for close listening. You wouldn't dance to a Wagner opera.
PAULSEN -What do you think of The Beatles?
COOKE -They have honesty. They're a shrewd and observing bunch of young men. They surveyed the scene and supplied a
need and they're selling records.
PAULSEN -How would you define soul?
COOKE -Today, when we say soul we mean the capacity to project a feeling.
PAULSEN -What plans do you have for the future, Sam?
COOKE -I want to go to Las Vegas. I feel I'm ready now. I plan to appear along the club circuit and in concerts. Someday I'd like to
do a Broadway play -but that's way into the future.
PAULSEN -In conclusion, do you have any message for your fans?
COOKE -I have an intense desire to make all of my audiences happy.
PAULSEN -Well, I'd say you've certainly been doing that very successfully, Sam. Thank you for talking with us, today.
Don Paulsen July 1964