Song Lyric Sunday — Soul

For this week’s Song Lyric Sunday theme, Jim Adams has given us “soul” music. Back in the 60s, I was very into the soul sound and that’s when Motown records was the big label for many of the decade’s biggest soul artists. But while the artist I’m featuring today, Sam Cooke, was one of the era’s major soul celebrities, he recorded for the RCA label, not for Motown. The song I’m going with is “A Change is Gonna Come.”

“A Change Is Gonna Come” was a song by American singer-songwriter Sam Cooke. It initially appeared on Cooke’s album Ain’t that Good News, released in February 1964 by RCA Victor; a slightly edited version of the recording was released as a single just around Christmas in 1964. It reached number 9 on the Billboard R&B Singles Chart and number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100.

Cooke wrote this as a protest song to support the civil rights movement, as black Americans fought for equality. When Cooke heard Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind,” he became determined to write something similar. He couldn’t believe Dylan’s song wasn’t written by a black man.

Cooke was deeply affected by the death of his infant son, who drowned in a swimming pool in 1963. He started writing more introspective songs and took an interest in black history and politics.

Some of the lyrics were inspired by an incident where Cooke and some of his friends were arrested for disturbing the peace after they were denied rooms at a motel in Shreveport, Louisiana because they were black. 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.

“A Change is Gonna Come” was released as a single a few months after Cooke died. He was shot by a motel owner who claimed Cooke was raping a young girl in one of the rooms.

Though it was only a modest hit for Cooke in comparison with his previous singles, “A Change Is Gonna Come” is widely considered one of Cooke’s greatest and most influential compositions and has been voted among the greatest songs ever released by various publications. In 2007, the song was selected for preservation in the Library of Congress, with the National Recording Registry deeming the song “culturally, historically, or aesthetically important.” In 2021, it appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of the Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, ranked at number 3.

Here are the lyrics to “A Change Gonna Come.”

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, 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

14 thoughts on “Song Lyric Sunday — Soul

    • Fandango April 9, 2023 / 4:50 pm

      Tragically cut short. Imagine what he could have done

      Liked by 1 person

  1. newepicauthor April 9, 2023 / 6:55 am

    This song was mentioned in the movie One Night in Miami that featured Malcolm X, Cassius Clay, Jim Brown, and Sam Cooke spending a night talking about life in a hotel room. Great choice, Fandango.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 9, 2023 / 4:59 pm

      Thanks, Christine.


    • Marleen April 9, 2023 / 12:10 pm

      This was my favorite song, for a while… starting in the ‘90s.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Fandango April 9, 2023 / 5:03 pm

      Excellent, soulful cover. Thanks for sharing.


  2. Marleen April 9, 2023 / 6:02 pm

    Like another musician you mentioned said, the sixties and early seventies were an idealistic time. This song is so nostalgic, and beautiful with the instrumentation and great voice.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. leigha66 April 20, 2023 / 3:42 pm

    I had not heard of his tragic demise. That is awful! This song however was wonderful!

    Liked by 1 person

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