Chain Gang (song)

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"Chain Gang"
Single by Sam Cooke
from the album Swing Low
B-side "I Fall In Love Every Day"
Released July 26, 1960
Format 7" single
Recorded January 25, 1960
RCA Studio A
(New York City)
Genre Rhythm and blues, soul
Length 2:34
Label RCA Victor 7783
Writer(s) Sam Cooke
Producer(s) Hugo & Luigi
Sam Cooke singles chronology
"You Understand Me"
"Chain Gang"
"Sad Mood"

"Chain Gang" is a song by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, released on July 26, 1960. The song became one of Cooke's most successful singles, peaking at number two on both the Billboard Hot 100 and the Hot R&B Sides chart; it also charted at number seven on the UK Singles Chart.

This was Cooke's second-biggest American hit, his first single for RCA Victor after leaving Keen Records earlier in 1959, and was also his first top 10 hit since "You Send Me" from 1957, and his second-biggest Pop single. The song was inspired after a chance meeting with an actual chain-gang of prisoners on a highway, seen while Sam was on tour. According to legend, Cooke and his brother Charles felt sorry for the men and gave them several cartons of cigarettes. Cooke was reportedly unsatisfied with the initial recording sessions of this song at RCA Studios in New York in January 1960, and came back three months later to redo some of the vocals to get the effect he wanted.

Five months later, Ty Hunter & The Voice Masters tried an Answer Song, "Free", but it missed making the Top 100. The songwriting credits are sometimes erroneously attributed to Sol Quasha & Herb Yakus, who wrote a different song with the same title that was recorded by Bobby Scott and made the Top 20 in 1956.


In 1968, the song was remade by the duo of Jackie Wilson and Count Basie. Released on the Brunswick label, this version became a top forty R&B hit and a minor Billboard Hot 100 hit.[citation needed]

Jim Croce medley[edit]

"Chain Gang Medley: Chain Gang/He Don't Love You/Searchin"
Single by Jim Croce
from the album Down the Highway
B-side Stone Walls
Released December 1975[1]
Format 7" 45 RPM
Genre Folk rock
Length 4:37
Label Lifesong
Writer(s) Sam Cooke, Charles Cook, Jerry Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Calvin Carter, Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller
Producer(s) Terry Cashman, Tommy West
Jim Croce singles chronology
"Workin' at the Car Wash Blues"
"Chain Gang Medley"
"Mississippi Lady"

Jim Croce had his last Hot 100 hit in 1976 when Lifesong Records released "Chain Gang Medley," a medley which included this song as well as "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)" and "Searchin'." The medley reached a peak of 63 on the Billboard Hot 100 after spending 9 weeks on the chart.

Chart (1975–1976) Peak
U.S. Billboard Hot 100 63
U.S. Billboard Adult Contemporary 22[2]
U.S. Cash Box Top 100 56[3]
Canadian RPM Top Singles 29[4]
Canadian RPM Adult Contemporary 20[5]