Yet another perfect pop song from Sam Cooke, falling more in line with his earlier crossover smooth pop hits like "You Send Me" than his later return-to-his-roots gospel-based soul songs like "Bring It on Home to Me." In fact, "Cupid" has less to do with R&B and gospel music and is more similar to the classic songwriting of the American theater by the Gershwins and Cole Porter. As with Leiber & Stoller and Brill Building songwriters like Bert Berns, with songs like "Cupid," Cooke -- who had already achieved star status as a gospel performer -- helped usher in a new era of pop composition that combined Latin, R&B, jazz, and mainstream pop elements. "Cupid" touches on all of these genres. Cooke was influential not only as a performer, but as a composer as well.
Beginning with the slightly melancholy sound of a French horn over slightly Afro-Cuban rhythms, Cooke croons in his smooth tenor a request to the diminutive Roman god with a sing-song melody: "Cupid, draw back your bow/And let your arrow go/Straight to my lover's heart for me/Cupid, please hear my cry and let your arrows fly." It is a clever, lighthearted lyric, bordering on being a novelty tune, with the onomatopoeic "ssssss-straight to my lover's heart." "Now, cupid if your arrow make a love storm for me/I promise I will love her until eternity/I know between the two of us her heart we can steal/Help me if you will," sings Cooke, charmingly implying a Southern-accented rhyme with "steal" and "will." High-register strings and R&B/doo wop backing vocals join the building arrangement.
"Cupid" was released in 1961 and spent three months in the Top 20. The Spinners scored a Top 40 hit with the song in 1981 as part of a medley. Johnny Nash also had a Top 40 hit with an excellent reggae version in 1970.