A Change Is Gonna Come

A Change Is Gonna Come

I began A Change Is Gonna Come in 2017 as both an act of remembrance and personal activism. It's now 2020 and I need to bring this project back into play.

As remembrance, this project celebrates Sam Cooke and his song "A Change Is Gonna Come," an anthem for civil rights and social justice. As personal activism, this work reminds me, and I hope, others, that there is much work still to be done. Especially as we are just weeks away from the presidential election. At a time when the civil rights and social justice of many people are attacked with renewed vigor, from the highest level of government to our local communities, we must make a change. It is instructive to remember the struggles of Cooke and others who sought to facilitate change in our communities, society, and world. A Change Is Gonna Come reminds us that millions of people still yearn for the freedom to exercise their civil rights in a just society. Change is gonna come. Listen to Cooke's song of hope and help hasten its arrival.

Background

Singer Sam Cooke was arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana, in October 1963 for disturbing the peace. Despite having reservations, he and his family were denied lodging at local white-only hotels. When he argued with hotel personnel, they called the police.

Cooke recorded "A Change Is Gonna Come" 30 January 1964 as a song about his experience. In 7 February 1964, he performed it live on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson television show. His performance was overshadowed two days later, when The Beatles first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show.

"A Change Is Gonna Come" was included on Cooke's third record album, Ain't That Good News, released 1 March 1964. On 11 December 1964, two weeks before the single of "A Change Is Gonna Come" was to be released, Sam Cooke was shot and killed in Los Angeles, California.

In "A Change Is Gonna Come," Cooke gave testimony to his struggles (shared and personal) for civil rights and social justice. He sang about change being "a long time coming," but, despite the hardships, knew "a change is gonna come." His song speaks to human uplift and triumph against adversity.

In 2005, "A Change Is Gonna Come" was named number twelve in Rolling Stone magazine's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. In 2007, it was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, with the National Recording Registry deeming the song "culturally, historically, or aesthetically important" (Cannady, Sheryl. Recordings by Historical Figures and Musical Legends Added To the 2006 National Recording Registry. Library of Congress, March 2007).

Lyrics by Sam Cooke

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

Metadata

Object: Audio
Format: mp3
Bit Rate: 356kbs
Duration: Varies
Created: 2017
Creator: John F. Barber

Versions

Many artists have recorded "A Change Is Gonna Come" as part of their personal activism for civil rights. Several are collected here. Listen to them one at a time. Or combine them using the dedicated audio players to create your own version. Think about change, and what you can do to help its coming.

Aaron Neville

Al Green and Booker T. and The MGs

Aretha Franklin

Bettye LaVette

Bill Frisell

Billy Ocean

Bobby Womack

Brian Owens and Thomas Owens

The Campbell Brothers and John Medeski

Cold War Kids

Jeff Beck

Joey Defrancesco

John Butte

King Curtis

Lamont Hadley

Lee Logan and The Original Drifters

New Orleans Heartbreakers and Big Al Carson

Otis Redding

Patti LaBelle

Playing for Change Band

Prince Buster

Solomon Burke

Terence Trent D'Arby

The Band

Tina Turner

Wes Mackey

Artist Statement

In his song, "A Change Is Gonna Come", singer Sam Cooke gave testimony to his struggles (shared and personal) for civil rights and social justice. He sang about change being "a long time coming," but, despite the hardships, knew "a change is gonna come." His song became an anthem for the civil rights movement, speaking to human uplift and triumph against adversity. Many artists have recorded "A Change Is Gonna Come" as part of their personal activism for civil rights.

At a time when civil rights are attacked with renewed vigor, from the highest level of government, and social justice is routinely denied many people, it is important to remember the struggles of Cooke and others who sought to facilitate change in our communities, society, and world.

I like to think that my combination of several versions of "A Change Is Gonna Come" will prompt you to think about Cooke's personal struggles against racism, discrimination, and disrespect. Perhaps you have similar struggles. Surely you know of others who face this adversity. I hope this project will prompt you to do what you can to hasten the arrival of positive change that will make all our lives better, more just.