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Joe Cocker reinvented the work of Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan, Randy Newman and especially Lennon/McCartney so effectively, with such a personal and possessed passion, that every song he sang might as well have been written by the man himself. Check out his reimagining of Julie London’s “Cry Me A River” — once a sultry lament — as a raved-up accusatory screed delivered with demonic fire. On a level with Janis Joplin, Cocker was one of the great rock/soul vocalists that came out of the Woodstock era. He was also one of the few pure vocalists that actually did write some of his best (if not his biggest) songs, but could put his songwriting ego on hold when he saw a higher calling within someone else’s material.
It’s those high-profile, high-octane interpretations you’ll likely see dissected and justly lauded in his obituaries, rightly honoring Cocker’s definitive covers of “With A Little Help From My Friends” (The Beatles), “Feelin’ Alright” (Traffic) and “You Are So Beautiful” (Billy Preston). But many of those tributes will miss this early single — a Joe Cocker original that brings to mind The Beatles “Your Mother Should Know” and even a bit of Herman’s Hermits. Sure, the last thing you’d expect from Joe Cocker is this jaunty little music-hall tune, but with an exaggerated falsetto and the trademark fire he couldn’t contain, even when he was aiming for the charts and still very much finding his voice, he makes a fun little vignette feel like there was something much more serious at stake. Because in his hands, there always was.