Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images

Photo: BC Photo Archives/Getty Images


Soul the genre still but a faint blip on America’s post-war rock radar, Sam Cooke came finger-snapping in on this day in 1957 and dropped a crossover bomb on the R&B charts.

Or maybe a glimmering revolver is a better analogy, as “You Send Me” was a smooth threat to its contemporaries — too sexy to be gospel, yet too chill to own a backbeat, Cooke wooing his crystalline yearn for a love that sends the song’s protagonist to that ethereal place only the best soul singers can tap into.

This was a significant move in breaking some color divide taboos, as prior to ’57, the expected track for a gospel star was to remain a gospel star.

“At first I thought it was infatuation/But wooh, it’s lasted so long/Now I find myself wanting/To marry you and take you home,” the 26-year-old star repeats in the chorus. A set of white choir girls — another taboo broken — underscore the glow.

Pop balladry would never be the same. Except of course when Cooke let it bleed again on “A Change is Gonna Come.”