Week Twenty-Nine: Chain Gang

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Many a people have covered this song, but it was Sam Cooke who started it all after being inspired by an actual chain gang. In our version, you will hear genuine foot stomping and chain rattling in exchange for musical accompaniment.

Researching this song, the following sketchy tidbits were discovered:
1. Sam Cooke was murdered at age 33 under quite curious circumstances.
2. Maricopa County in Arizona is currently the only place in the US on record that continues the use of chain gangs, even though most states eliminated their use by the early ’60s (with a year long resurgence in 1995).
3. Researching Chain gangs was considerably more depressing than researching Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego.
-  K

We were originally going to sing this song along with a downloaded karaoke version, but Kristin suggested that we do it a capella, sort of gospel style.  This was all good fun, but sounded kind of thin, and then Kristin came up with the idea of adding the marching noises.  We actually went outside to do this portion of the recording, with the mics sitting just inside the screen door pointing at the concrete patio.  We did several takes and wore different shoes each time.  Then we thought and thought about where we might have some chains.  Kristin had the answer:  tire chains!  You’re required to carry them around these parts if you want to go through certain mountain passes, but we’ve never actually needed to use them.  Until now!

The sordid details of Sam Cooke’s demise as reported by Kristin are quite true.  I can’t hear this song now without conjuring the image of Sam Cooke, half-naked and wearing one shoe, screaming incoherently at the hotel desk clerk as she attempts to fend him off with a broomstick.  Still, what a great song!  -    N

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  1. Karen says:

    We love it! One of Dan’s favorites! I loved the Hoo Haa’s! I would work along your side til the sun goes down when you two are singing. We are going to MISS you both so much!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Amy from the Bakery says:

    Hats off! I never knew the history of this song, and glad you mentioned it. This body of work is incredible. INCREDIBLE. Really.
    Matthew listened to it all day and was blown away by the talent you two have. He said, have you met Kristin? And I said, yeah, She’s nice and does humanitarian work, too. And he said, have you heard her SING? But, no, I hadn’t until we spent over an hour trolling the archives with our jaws dropped. Much applause for this, folks. It’s really impressive. We’d like to buy you two dinner and a movie. I’m gonna call and ask Norm when we can.

    1. kristin says:

      I love this story!! So glad you’re enjoying the project! We would love to accept your offer–anything for the fans.

  3. S.P. Gass says:

    Nice! If interested, there’s also a good bluegrass song called Chain Gang: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nv7D2amUPAI

    BTW, would really love to hear you guys pick out and do an old time/folk number one week!

  4. Aurora says:

    Nice voices!!! I love this cover of Sam Cooke!!! It´s a shame that he dies so young..They say that was because a jealous husband… He was a “Don Juan”…

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