Monday, July 05, 2010

Music Monday ~ Joe Cocker

Deciding on Joe Cocker as this week's subject, I glanced down Wikipedia's list of people born on his birthday 20 May, and noticed a clutch of singer/musicians there, especially during the late 1930s to mid 40s. One, a popular Dutch singer Boudewijn de Groot was born on the same day as Joe Cocker - though in a Japanese prison camp in Indonesia.

20 May = one of the last degrees of Taurus, Taurus is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts, so it's not surprising to find a goodly sprinkling of singers and musicians with Sun and other planets in the sign. The last degrees of a sign are said, by some astrologers, to carry a particularly "strong" version of the sign's flavour.

Some 20 May, late Taurus singers/musicians:
1938 – Marinella, Greek singer and actress. 1940 – Shorty Long, American musician (d. 1969). 1942 – Jill Jackson, American singer (Paul & Paula). 1943 – Al Bano, Italian singer. 1944 – Joe Cocker, British singer. 1944 – Boudewijn de Groot, Dutch singer. 1946 – Cher, American singer & actress.

Joe Cocker was born in Yorkshire, England - a fellow-Yorkie! He now has a home in Crawford, Colorado, a neighbouring state of ours.

How to describe Joe Cocker's style? Hard to do. Intense? Kind of. He throws himself, physically and emotionally, right into the songs he sings. You don't get the feeling that he's on automatic pilot - not ever. That's the sign of a true artist. His voice is rough, jagged, harsh - though when attempting sweet, there's a certain poignancy that naturally sweet voices can never emulate.

May 20 was the birthday of my late partner, Bill. He was quite a bit older than Joe. Those last degrees of Taurus certainly manifest with intesity. Bill, though not a singer, both loved and hated with all his heart and mind, never did anything by halves.

Joe's career had a shaky start in the UK. It was after his now legendary performance at Woodstock in 1969 that he really began to succeed. His career is documented well at Wikipedia, linked above.

If Astrodatabank's time of birth for Joe Cocker is correct, he has late Aries rising, Moon in the first degree of Taurus very close to the ascendant, with Mercury, Venus and Sun spread through the sign. Taurus is ruled by Venus, planet of the arts - with so many personal planets, including Venus itself, clustered there it'd be surprising if the native wasn't drawn to some branch of the arts.

I think we can safely say that Joe is very Taurean - he even looks Taurean now, in his maturity : broad and chunky.

I'm not sure where to look for a reflection of that idiosyncratic style of Joe's - the awkward stance, flailing arms......Jupiter (exaggeration) is in square (challenging and awkward) aspect to Venus - perhaps that's it!

There's a good selection of videos featuring Joe at YouTube. Rather than posting one of his most famous recordings (With a Little Help From My Friends, You Are So Beautiful....etc.) I've chosen a couple that particularly appeal to me, the old blues classic St James' Infirmary, and Cry Me a River. Talk about "making a song your own" - Joe Cocker must have written the book on that!


Wisewebwoman said...

He puts everything into it, always has. I've always been a fan.
I used to think - now he and Janis Joplin, I wonder what kind of a kid they would have produced?
He's lucky to have survived, many didn't.

Kaleymorris said...

I read once that the flailing around is excess energy he would have used to play an instrument, if he only could. He was an original air guitarist!

The Next President of the United States said...

Kaleymorris is right, those gyrations are Cocker becoming the first air guitarist. If you watch closely, you'll see that he works the fretboard, strums and bends strings.
The absence of Leon Russell and Joe Cocker are the greatest oversights associated with the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame. Not only is Cocker a great rock singer, he is one of the five greatest white blues singers of all time - along with Gregg Allman, Rod Stewart, Frankie Miller and Stevie Ray Vaughan. If you want to make it a full half-dozen, add in Hank Williams Sr.

Twilight said...

WWW ~~~ Oh my that would have been some wild baby!

Twilight said...

Kaleymorris ~~ yes, you can tell he's playing an instrument at times, in his head - but even so, he does it in such an awkward!

Twilight said...

TNPOTUS ~~~ Goodness, aren't they in the R&R Hall of Fame? That's bad! Neil Diamond isn't either, and I see that as bad too.

I'm not a big blues fan, but do enjoy some individual numbers and artists. I still haven't forgotten Janiva Magness's rendition of "He Was Never Mine" at the Simmons! :-)

I like Joe because he doesn't stick to just one style, and he's not afraid of taking a standard song and tearing it to bits - as in Cry Me a River.

anyjazz said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Twilight said...

anyjazz ~~~ My pleasure!

Anonymous said...

Joe died on the 22 december 2014...
R.I.P. !!