♫ A Change Is Gonna Come ♫

Sam CookeThis one was never a #1 hit, maybe some of you have never even heard it before, but in light of the recent murder by police of George Floyd and the blatant racism we see by our own elected officials, I felt this was a very appropriate song to share.  I do hope you will spend the 3 minutes to listen … it is poignant, moving.

The song was inspired by various personal events in Cooke’s life, most prominently an event in which he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only motel in Louisiana. Cooke felt compelled to write a song that spoke to his struggle and of those around him, and that pertained to the Civil Rights Movement and African Americans.

On October 8, 1963, en route to Shreveport, Louisiana, Cooke called ahead to the Holiday Inn North to make reservations for his wife, Barbara, and himself, but when he and his group arrived, the desk clerk glanced nervously and explained there were no vacancies. While his brother Charles protested, Sam was fuming, yelling to see the manager and refusing to leave until he received an answer. His wife nudged him, attempting to calm him down, telling him, “They’ll kill you,” to which he responded, “They ain’t gonna kill me, because I’m Sam Cooke.” When they eventually persuaded Cooke to leave, the group drove away calling out insults and blaring their horns. When they arrived at the Castle Motel on Sprague Street downtown, the police were waiting for them, arresting them for disturbing the peace.

Upon hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1963, Cooke was greatly moved that such a poignant song about racism in America could come from someone who was not black, and was also ashamed he had not yet written something like that himself. However, his image and fears of losing his largely white fan base prevented him from doing so. Cooke loved the song so much it was immediately incorporated into his repertoire.

Many others, including Aaron Neville and Patti LaBelle have recorded this song, but … well, it belongs to Sam Cooke, so without further ado …

A Change Is Gonna Come
Sam Cook

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ev’r since
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

It’s been too hard living, but I’m afraid to die
‘Cause I don’t know what’s up there, beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin’ me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn’t last for long
But now I think I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will

Source: LyricFind
Songwriters: Sam Cooke
A Change Is Gonna Come lyrics © Abkco Music, Inc

18 thoughts on “♫ A Change Is Gonna Come ♫

  1. In catching up with my emails, Jill, I found this song. I’m unfamiliar with it but it’s beautiful. I teared up as my son and his wife have a black foster child who just turned one. His two little sisters are in the foster care of a lovely black lady and were invited to the party. My son sent videos of the party they had. They’re all darling children and I worry for them. My son had earlier sent a video of the little guy’s first steps. What kind of world will these little darlings be entering? They’re so sweet, smart, and innocent. —- Suzanne

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yes, sadly this song is still so relevant today … we are still waiting for that “Change” to come. I love hearing about the foster child your son and daughter-in-law have! How wonderful! I shall keep my fingers crossed that he has a good life … perhaps he will grow up to become an instrument of that much-needed change.

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  2. Cooke loved the song so much it was immediately incorporated into his repertoire.

    It’s a bit more complicated than that. Yes, having worked for so long to get this one just right, Cooke arranged to give give this song an almost insanely extravagant national debut, on the Tonight Show, with a full orchestra per this description. It was something he was justifiably proud of and wanted the world to hear.

    View at Medium.com


    Cooke was unsettled by the song’s grave tone, and his friend Bobby Womack agreed, admitting that he thought the song sounded “like death.” In the brief time he had left, Cooke declined to sing it again. He was killed on December 11, 1964

    A “brief time,” indeed, but still that left ten months from the Tonight show appearance and his death. I mention this because this is why you’ll never find a video of Cooke performing this live.

    What happened to the Tonight Show tape? well, that stuff was expensive, and it was SOP at all TV networks to re-use the stuff after a couple years and, yeah. Wiped clean ages ago.

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    • Fascinating history & backstory! Thank you so much for adding this context. I do wish the Tonight Show tape still existed, for I would love to see it. Thanks again!


    • I’m glad you liked the song! Sam Cook is one of my all-time favourites! Sadly, it appears that you are right, though I sense that the universe better re-set its time clock, for I think this time there will have to be some real change. Sadly, we can’t change how people think. Sigh.

      Liked by 1 person

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