This may seem to be a bit of a departure for this blog, at least in the case of our first performance by of all people, Sammy Davis, Jr., this being the place for all things rockin'. Despite being a pop music legend and arguably the most talented member of the Rat Pack ( he could hold his own vocally with Sinatra and Martin, comedically with Joey Bishop, had better acting chops than Peter Lawford and unlike any of them, he was a dancer), he would seem out of place in a discussion on rock music. I have him here for two reasons, firstly he is taking a great pop/rock song and making it greater, in this instance Jerry Jeff Walker's "Mr Bojangles" (#77, Billboard Top 100, 1969). Secondly , in this performance you can see what an influence he was on "The King Of Pop", the late great Michael Jackson. This performance done in 1985, just four years before all those cigarettes robbed him of his voice and ultimately his life, allows one to imagine Mr. Jackson watching this and immediately going out to buy a hat. It is a performance that never fails to bring a tear to my eye.
The second Great Performance is by Bob Marley doing "Redemption Song". It is an example of the power and emotion he so effortlessly called forth. This version is simply the man, his voice and his acoustic guitar surrounded by The Wailers, who can only sit and take in the devastating passion he evokes in this performance, one that also moves this listener to tears. I hope you enjoy this unlikely pairing who while they lived, shared in common the ability to touch people's souls.