This ukulele video lesson is titled, Nothing Can Change this Love, and was released by Sam Cooke in August of 1962. It was originally a B-side, but it eventually charted and has been covered by other artists over the years. The song peaked at #2 on the Billboard R&B charts in the year it was released and hit #12 on the Hot 100 and #4 on the Adult Contemporary charts. Quite an accomplishment for a song that was intended to be a B-side!
The song plays well into the sources of Cooke’s overall appeal. He was able to blend together the best elements of soul music and pop music and make something unique out of what he took from both genres.
This song went through some evolution before it was laid down on vinyl, with the more soulful version of the song that people are familiar with today having replaced a lighter version that Cooke had recorded earlier. The end result is a song that has enough in its style that is conventional to make it easy to follow and enjoy, but that also showcases Cooke’s vocal style very well.
Nothing Can Change this Love is in A Major and in 12/8 time. The use of triplets in the rhythm emphasizes the time signature, but the song also has a sense of swing and groove to it that keep from being too conventional.
The song utilizes a fairly simple chord progression, but the phrasing and the timing are everything. Players should play close attention to how the accompaniment emphasizes the singing in this song. The chord changes tend to lend the vocal lines a very moving, relaxed character that the listener should be able to ease into as the song progresses. Think laid-back, groovy and sophisticated when you’re playing this song.
Cooke was a popular singer but, ultimately, a tragic figure. He died as the result of a gunshot wound. One night, in the winter of 1964, he headed off to a hotel with a woman. Cooke ended up getting into a confrontation with the hotel owner and the hotel owner shot him, claiming self-defense. It was, however, ruled that Cooke had been murdered after the case went to trial.
Cooke was one of the musicians who managed to bring together the appeal of soul music, which was largely listed to by African Americans at the time and pop music, which was played all over the airwaves. His vocal style is very much showcased in this 1962 hit, with him alternating between his characteristically sweet tenor and a more gravelly tone. He was a master of matching his vocal style to the lyrics he was singing at the time and, for a ukulele player trying to pull off this song, being sensitive to the lyrics that are being sung during any given bar will breathe some life into the performance.
12/8 and 4/4 time signatures are mathematically similar, but they’re much different in execution. When you’re playing in
12/8, think blues. Listen to the original recording of this song and you’ll
pick up on the bluesy feel, which is emphasized when the chord changes come
with a degree of emphasis and then transition to a more lazy, relaxed feel when
the vocalist comes out in front. Make sure to pay attention to where the
triplets come in with a great deal of presence, as well, as this is vital to
making the song sound right. This song requires a bit of practice and offers
enough complexity that playing it is great practice in and of itself. (Note: I made the rhythm a little faster in this ukulele video lesson.) Now go and practice!
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