There are two things I immediately think of whenever I hear Joe Cocker and neither has a thing to do with his talent or musical legacy. First I think of my late Uncle, Harold Winters. My favorite Uncle. He gave me "Here's Little Richard" when I was about 6 years old and if that wasn't enough, it was Uncle Harold around that same time that turned me on to "Valerie" by Jackie & The Starlights. Uncle Harold loved Joe Cocker and when he got older he even resembled him a bit. Secondly, I think of becoming a father for the first and only time. My wife and I always knew when our baby would need to be changed because when a "number 2" was brewing she would go through a remarkable silent impression of Joe Cocker's trademark delivery. One of us would smile and say, "That is so adorable she's doing a Cocker, isn't it your turn?"
I've long felt that Joe Cocker hasn't ever truly gotten his due. There's been no Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame induction and since he didn't write his own material he is not often mentioned as an influence as music has marched forward. However, if you are from my generation it would not be a stretch to consider Joe a very important influence, and perhaps one of the finest song and songwriter "filters" of his time. For example, it was his version of "Bird On A Wire" that turned me on to Leonard Cohen all those years ago.
I've always loved what Joe Cocker did to a song. He didn't just sing it or deliver it, he wore it. He became the lyric and crawled up inside the melody, throwing it back at us with his soul and passion and love. He carried me away many times over the years and from all reports was always a hell of a nice guy. When this sad news broke today it came to mind that perhaps his friend and Mad Dog Alum Bobby Keys needed a front man for this year's Christmas Show at that huge afterparty in the sky. Yeah... that's it. With Mac settling behind the keyboards.
12/22/2014 11:09:30 am
Who was it who said that rock lyrics shouldn't be easy to decipher? Joe did that in spades. You wanted to sing along and actually change the lyrics to whatever it was that Joe was singing. Loved his interpretations. A very sad end to the year.
12/22/2014 02:01:19 pm
I'll never be able to think of Joe Cocker again without thinking about "doing a Cocker" #thanksMike
12/24/2014 12:42:56 am
Love this story.....
12/24/2014 03:07:18 am
Thanks for this post, Mike. My sister was (still is!) a Joe Cocker fan and it was her that turned me on to him so long ago. I was listening to MD&E, With A Little Help From My Friends and Joe Cocker! last night. His version of Delta Lady still gives me goose bumps. RIP Joe.
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