April 1, 2023

By Ahmet Abdulaziz….

I personally never was a fan of Joe Cocker, due to more involvement with the Beatles and others of the like, but of course, he was and still is one of the singers who made their mark in the world of music.

Joe also emerged on the music scene, when the Beatles were making their way up on the top. He was rather involved to some extent with their musical experiments, but unlike Eric Clapton, who was close to George Harrison for example, Joe kept his distance from them.

Born in Sheffield, UK on 20th May 1944, that’s one of the reason for my writing this article on what would have been his 77th birthday, he died on 22nd December 2014. He was interested and involved in music from the time of his youth. His elder brother was already playing in a musical group, who in fact was the first to invite Joe on stage, at the tender age of 12, to sing a song for them. Then henceforth Joe never stopped, and kept on moving up in the musical world.

When we discuss the 60’s and the overall change that music and the music world passed through, the name of Woodstock or Woodstock Music Festival, pop in. Most of the young musicians who performed on stage, during those couple of days at Woodstock in August 1969. were already ruling the music world, but Woodstock added a lot in accelerating their musical careers. Joe Cocker, Santana and many more young musicians were just starting their musical careers at that time. Interestingly The Beatles or the Rolling Stones were not at Woodstock, but those who performed there never let musical enthusiasts feel them missing.

In his peculiar style, Joe Cocker sang “With a little help from my friends”, on 17th August 1969 at Woodstock. It was one of his awesome performances. He sang only one song there, and that one performance has become unforgettable for music lovers.

Basically he became impressed by Ray Charles, and started his career following him, but over a period of time, he kept on changing his style, as he never stopped learning from others. Throughout his career, we do not see any fixed style of singing in his performances.

However, there is one thing that people never understood about Joe Cocker, and that was his peculiar style of performance. I may not be able to explain exactly how he used to swing his hands and his style of standing during his performances. The best way to understand what I am trying to say is to watch the video of his Woodstock performance. Flailing both his arms, in different directions and playing non-existent piano and guitar with his fingers, became a standard trademark of him.

He was asked to explain about his very unique and unorthodox sort of onstage actions, he gave an explanation to this while talking to “The Guardian”. He explained “I guess that came with my frustration at never having played piano or guitar. If you see me nowadays I’m not quite so animated, but it’s just a way of trying to get feeling out – I get excited and it all comes through my body.”

There are innumerable fantastic songs to the credit of Joe Cocker, who kept on performing up until he died of lung cancer on 22nd December 2014. Among his famous songs are “She came through the Bathroom Window”, “Delta Lady”, “When the Night Comes”, “You are so Beautiful”, “Don’t Let me be Misunderstood”, “With a Little help from my Friends”, and many more, yet my personal preference is “Unchain My Heart”.

So here are the lyrics of “Unchain My heart”.

Unchain my heart
Baby, let, let me be
‘Cause you don’t care
Well, please
Set me free
Unchain my heart
Baby, let me go
Unchain my heart
‘Cause you don’t love me no more
Every time I call you on the phone
Some fella tells me that you’re not at home
Unchain my heart
Set me free
Unchain my heart (unchain my heart)
Baby, let me be
Unchain my heart (unchain my heart)
‘Cause you don’t care about me
You’ve got me sewed up like a pillow case
But you let my love go to waste
Unchain my heart
Set me free
I’m under your spell
Like a man in a trance baby
Oh, but you know darn well
That I don’t stand a chance
Unchain my heart (unchain my heart)
Let me go my way
Unchain my heart (unchain my heart)
You worry me night and day
Why lead me through a life of misery
When you don’t care a bag…


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