A Change Is Gonna Come (3:13)

Cover of The Man and His Music

From The Man and His Music and 21 other releases

A Change Is Gonna Come is a 1964 single by R&B singer-songwriter Sam Cooke, written and first recorded in 1963 and released under the RCA Victor label shortly after his death in late 1964. Though only a modest hit for Cooke in comparison with his previous singles, the song came to exemplify the sixties Civil Rights Movement. The song has gained in popularity and critical acclaim in the decades since its release.

Origins

Cooke was greatly moved upon hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind” in 1963 and was reportedly in awe that such a poignant song about racism in America could come from someone who was white. While on tour in May 1963, and after speaking with sit-in demonstrators in Durham, North Carolina following a concert, Cooke returned to his tour bus and wrote the first draft of what would become “A Change Is Gonna Come.”

In a sense, “A Change Is Gonna Come” is an answer to Dylan’s “Blowin’ in the Wind”, as well as a song of hope for the Civil Rights Movement. The hypothetical questions posed by Dylan, most obvious being “how many years can some people exist, before they’re allowed to be free?”, were answered by an implied “Fewer than you think.” Though Cooke recognized “it’s been a long/a long time coming”, the song states that change is inevitable. A similar sentiment was echoed by Dylan in “The Times They Are A-Changin’”, written and released after “A Change Is Gonna Come.” The song also reflected much of Cooke’s own inner turmoil.

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