Surrounded by an entourage of road crew, band mates, managers and security, David Cook graciously handles his frenzied schedule with the peaceful energy of a seasoned professional. The singer, who was launched to stardom in 2008 when he won American Idol, is firmly grounded in his role on center-stage, extending a personal connection to everyone from VIP greenroom guests to back row skeptics. And as expected from a real rock star, the opening note of the first song creates a mesmerizing trance that only live music can offer. It's more than a performance, it's an experience.
Cook's songs strike a chord of melancholy; his eyes reveal a deep well of emotion. In an interview with Spaces Quarterly, Cook discusses that both the gift and the plight of an artist is to take off the peripherals and expose the world as it really is. Indeed, the songs on his latest album This Loud Morning express both the beauty and pain of a sensitive soul.
In the song “Paper Heart,” he sings, "Let it fall, take it all, 'cause I'm so tired of feelin' everything. So damn me and my paper heart in this pouring rain."
Writing music that speaks to so many takes a lot of self reflection and internal focus. Cook explains that he works in "bunches," experiencing times where he can find inspiration in anything, and that everything he writes is consistent and great. "But it comes and it goes," Cook says. "There are months where nothing I write is good enough."
Many of his lyrics contain the back story on his life. Cook lost his older brother in 2009 to brain cancer, and the trauma of that loss is expressed beautifully in his song “Permanent,” released on his first album David Cook.
When all you know seems so far away, And everything is temporary, rest your head I'm permanent. I know he's living in hell every single day And so I ask, Oh God is there some way for me to take his place?
Even with such intense expressions, his new album, This Loud Morning, is musically up-tempo with choruses that grab your attention and pull you into the next song. He starts with a dark vibe and artfully rearranges it in a way that makes you smile.
David Cook has a lighthearted laugh accompanied by a down-to-earth sense of humor and pays tribute to where he comes from. During a recent performance, he surprised the crowd (and possibly his bandmates, too) by launching into a heart-pounding, acoustical rendition of Led Zepplin's “Rock and Roll” and commented to the crowd that "to not like Led Zepplin is to not understand rock ‘n' roll. Sorry," he laughed, "it's the truth.”
And exploring the truth, however complicated it may be, is what sets Cook apart. "I try to write in a way that [my music] does what I need it to therapeutically, but also allows people to find something in it for themselves.” As an artist, he finds that this is his purpose. "I hold no images of grandeur that my music will change the world. I think that coexisting with it is enough."
Special Thanks to Vera Bradley
Photos and Video by Tony Frantz