In a record store on the South Side of Chicago, the clerk told me I was the first person he’d seen buy a Sam Cooke record in seven years. For a moment this made me feel awful, a sadness perhaps inappropriate, but genuine.
The name on my birth certificate is Samantha Branca Cook. One of many reasons why I no longer go by that name is that Sam Cook is not a name that belongs to me. It belongs to that man’s beautiful voice, and his tragic young death.
I bought the three records they had, and I gave them to my boyfriend for his 21st birthday.