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Chain Gang by Sam Cooke


Screenshot of record album cover "The Best of Sam Cooke"

Sam Cooke was inspired to write the song “Chain Gang” after seeing a group of prisoners working while he was on tour. Honoring their difficult toil, the song reached the Number 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was Cooke’s second biggest hit. Chain gangs were groups of prisoners chained together and forced to work on roadway construction, ditch digging, or farming. By 1955, most states had largely abolished the use of chain gangs, although in the 1990s their use increased.