A Change Is Gonna Come

The American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke (1931-1964) is considered one of the most influential soul music artists of all time, and this distinction earned him the title “King of Soul.” Several musicians I follow are admirers of the music Cooke made in his career, from 1951 until his death by homicide in 1964 at age 33.

Cooke’s influence also extended to the careers of other great musicians, including Aretha Franklin, Al Green, Curtis Mayfield, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and others.

Among the hit songs Cooke wrote or co-wrote are “Wonderful World,” “You Send Me,” “Chain Gang,” “Twistin’ the Night Away,” “Cupid,” and others, including today’s selection, which, while it wasn’t his biggest hit, is considered to be one of his most significant songs. Events in Cooke’s life inspired “A Change Is Gonna Come,” including when a whites-only motel in Shreveport, Louisiana refused service to him, his band and others with him. (It wasn’t until 55 years later—in 2019—that the then-mayor of Shreveport apologized to the Cooke family and awarded Sam the key to the city.)

Cooke had hesitated to write a song about segregation as he did not want to turn off his non-black listeners. But he was compelled to write about the struggles he and his fellow Black citizens were experiencing and, fittingly, the song became an anthem for the civil rights movement in the United States.

“I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh, and just like the river I’ve been running ever since

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ 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 gon’ come, oh yes, it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep telling me don’t hang around

It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gon’ 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

There’ve 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 gon’ come, oh yes, it will”

“A Change Is Gonna Come,” by Sam Cooke. Lyrics retrieved from AZLyrics.com.

If Cooke were still alive, I’m sure he (and those leading the civil rights movement) would be deeply troubled by attempts to erase Black-American history and by the erosion of their hard-fought-for rights in some states.

“A Change Is Gonna Come” appears on Cooke’s 11th and final studio album, Ain’t That Good News (1964) and was also released as a single later that year.

Now you know a little about why this is my Song of the Day for Today. Thanks for joining me here. Please enjoy the official lyric video from the Sam Cooke YouTube channel:

With my best wishes,


2 thoughts on “A Change Is Gonna Come

  1. I learnt about Cooke and this song in particular in a course I took about American history during the 60’s/70’s. This was one of my favourite songs from that course because you can feel the emotions behind the words.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for sharing. Yeah, the emotions are definitely there… hope and resiliency in the face of prejudice and all that brings (or takes away). 🙏🏼

      Liked by 1 person

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