Ah yes, another classic tale of cheap prostitution gone wrong. We’ve all heard this one before: the hooker shows up to the lowbrow motel, shoots the man after a drunken scuffle, then leaves him to bleed out and eventually lay lifeless in a casket in front of his embarrassed widow, friends, and family. Okay, maybe that’s a thankfully infrequent theme. But seriously, what kind of horrible, misogynistic man could engage in such a horrid act? Believe it or not, this is a tale of the once reveled, incredibly talented, love ballad-singing icon that was Sam Cooke. Many remember Cooke for legendary songs like “A Change is Gonna Come” and “You Send Me”, or classic Animal House party songs like “Twistin the Night Away” and “(What a) Wonderful World”. Very few seem to acknowledge this abrupt end to his career, however, likely in a ode to his esteemed rise rather than his stark demise on the fateful night of December 11th, 1964 in the Hacienda Motel in Los Angeles, California.
Reading that first paragraph may sparks thoughts of confusion or disgust, especially considering the contradictive emotions felt when thinking about the lovable Sam Cooke in such a detestably damning situation. Pickwick’s rendition of this timelessly depressing story puts an almost beautifully dark allure to the tale that is Sam Cooke’s death. An energetic bassline establishes a prominently low foundation to “Hacienda Motel” while intermittent guitar picks represent the powerful disarray that surrounds the story being told. Frontman Galen Disston’s voice lead’s Pickwick along the journey through time with exhaustive vocal effort much less apparent than in his literally much more colorful live performances. And yet, among such a serious and bizarre topic, “Hacienda Motel” somehow retains a surprising level of fun. Go figure.