This is sort of old news, but we all love a story with a happy ending. A while ago, I came across a missing child story about young Joshua Childers, a three year-old from Missouri who wandered from his parent’s home and into the Mark Twain National Forest. Little Joshua, on his way to pay a visit to his grandmother, went missing for three days and two nights, and family, friends and volunteers feared the worst. Circumstances surrounding missing children are often more nefarious, rendering the expected life span of a missing child to be around 48 hours. Even in this case, Josh was a very young boy to be on his own in the woods. Thankfully, a volunteer found Joshua relatively unscathed, wearing nothing but a shoe and a shirt. Volunteer Donnie Halpin spotted Josh laying beside a dry creek bed, his bare white ass gleaming from the underbrush.
Details of Josh’s rescue echo the startling demise of soul master Sam Cooke, who was shot in 1964 under very suspicious circumstances. Sam Cooke, not unlike Joshua, was found wearing nothing but a shoe and a sport coat. But Sam Cooke — legendary singer who has influenced the greatest R&B artists who followed, and subsequently popular music as a whole — was not lucky enough to survive. He left this world at the tender age of 33, leaving “A Change Is Gonna Come” to be re-recorded as anthem and quoted in presidential election speeches. Not to mention those tender love songs, among the first secularized gospel tunes to raise the ire of Bible-thumpers scandalized by Cooke’s overt (and possibly fatal?) sensuality.
My question, being mystically-minded and soul music-obsessed, is this: did Sam Cooke get a second chance? Did the singer, cut off in his prime, get the opportunity to come back, but this time (once again half-naked) survive? I would like to think so. In an era of change and new beginnings, don’t we all deserve the chance to live like a lucky, indestructible three year-old? Sam Cooke, no matter what the true circumstances of his death entailed, certainly deserves that much.