It’s been a disturbing, unsettling week in America since I last wrote one of these. Trying to think of something pop culture related to write about (without seeming frivolous) was proving difficult, and then I saw this post on the Record Archive Facebook page…
Seeing these albums made me think about two excellent documentaries I want to recommend this week. The first is “The Two Killings Of Sam Cooke”, and is part of the ReMastered series on Netflix.
The film incorporates interview footage from those that worked with him and knew him best, charting his rise to fame along with his passion for fighting social injustice and involvement in the civil rights movement. It also examines the shocking story of his death. That is where the “two killings” comes from… his actual physical murder, and also the hijacking of his legacy because of circumstances surrounding how he died. The classic song ” A Change Is Gonna Come” is his most famous contribution to the civil rights movement, but it’s not his only one… the movie examines the many other ways he fought racial injustice despite being the victim of hatred and bigotry (even at his own concerts). The connection between Cooke, Muhammad Ali, and Malcolm X is also talked about, and how their friendship was a cause for concern in the eyes of the FBI. Interesting, eye opening stuff.
On a side note, I also highly recommend Sam Cooke’s live album “One Night Stand: Sam Cooke Live At The Harlem Square Cub”. It’s one of the best live records ever, capturing a great performer at his peak without the overproduction that sometimes marred his studio recordings. Stop in to Record Archive to pick it up, or just order it here. You won’t regret it.
The other movie I want to recommend, and I think is important because of it’s timeliness is called “The Night James Brown Saved Boston” . On April 5, 1968, soul legend James Brown performed a concert in Boston that many say shielded that city from the kinds of devastating riots that ripped other cities apart after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. The story of this concert, the threatening of its cancellation, and ultimately the live broadcast on Boston television is an amazing story. That tale alone is well worth the 90 minutes of time and the cost of the DVD or streaming service, then add to that the absolutely amazing concert footage of James Brown. A great film, and one that showcases the sadly eerie similarities between the late 60’s and the current day America of 2020.
That’s all I’ve got for this week. Everyone take care of each other and stay safe. -Billy