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Chain Gang by Sam Cooke

R&B

Inspiration for songs, such as for this golden oldie, comes from many places. While on tour, Sam Cooke and his brother Charles saw a chain gang of prisoners on the highway. They were moved by what they saw and wrote this song. The story goes that they gave the men some cartons of cigarettes. In 1960, “Chain Gang” went to #2 on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the R&B Chart. There have been numerous covers, including versions by Jackie Wilson and Count Basie, King Curtis, The Supremes, Otis Redding, Lou Rawls, Bobby Tench, and The Nylons. The song was also part of the “Chain Gang Medley” by Jim Croce, which also included “Searchin'” and “He Don’t Love You (Like I Love You).”

Here are the lyrics:

“Ho ha ho ha
I hear somethin’ sayin’
Ho ha ho ha
Ho ha ho ha

Well don’t you know
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang
All day long they’re sayin’
Ho ha ho ha
Ho ha ho ha

Well don’t you know
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang

All day long they work so hard
Till the sun is going’ down
Workin’ on the highways and byways
And wearing, wearing a frown
You hear them moanin’ their lives away
Then you hear somebody say

That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang

Can’t hear them sayin’
Hmm, I’m goin’ home one of these days
I’m goin’ home
See my woman whom I love so dear
Meanwhile I have to work right here

Well don’t you know
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang
That’s the sound of the men
Workin’ on the chain gang

All day long they’re sayin’
Hmm, my, my, my, my, my, my, my, my work is so hard
Give me water I’m thirsty
My, my work is so hard
My, my, my, my, my, my, my work is so hard
Oh ooo oh ooo, hmm”

If you are interested in reading about and listening another song by Sam Cooke, please click here for “Another Saturday Night.”

For More Golden Oldies Music       

The Daily Doo Wop Rec Room has daily featured doo wop, rock and roll, R&B, or rockabilly songs that were hits during the first era of rock and roll (that is, from about 1952 until the British invasion in 1964). After a song is featured, it then goes into the juke box. You are welcome to listen to any of the 40+ selections there. Every weekend, there is a Golden Oldies Juke Box Saturday, and the juke box is full of song requests from the 1950s and 1960s.

Please click here for the Daily Doo Wop YouTube channel, to which you can subscribe. Thank you for stopping by The Daily Doo Wop. Hope you enjoyed “Chain Gang” by Sam Cooke.

3 Comments

  1. […] the Paisley’s sister site The Daily Doo Wop: “Another Saturday Night,” “Chain Gang,” “Cupid,” “Wonderful World,” and “Sad […]

  2. […] other songs by Sam Cooke: “Another Saturday Night,” “Chain Gang,” “Sad Mood,” “Cupid,” “Good Times,” “Ain’t […]

  3. bob says:

    I repeat my comment of 1/25/18: my most frequently played Sam Cooke song on i-Tunes is “Chain Gang”. Everytime I hear it now, I wonder how many of those men on that chain gang were guilty of any crime.

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