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17.4.14

#THROWBACKTHURSDAY: Sam Cooke - A Change Is Gonna Come

Sam Cooke - A Change is Gonna Come | Ses Rêveries

Another day, another favourite song...

I can't remember where I heard this song for the first time hich should tell you how long ago it was, but if you can imagine your life as a mash-up of songs and sounds that have made the most impact to you as a person, this would definitely be one of the most prominent in mine.

As fantastic (not to mention affecting) as this song is as a standalone, the story behind it that makes it even more endearing. In October 1963, Sam Cooke and his family were turned away from a Holiday Inn in Louisiana, a "whites only" motel at the time, so the story goes. And after displaying their outrage and demanding to see the manager, they eventually took their business to another motel where they were met by a band of policemen and arrested for disturbing the peace. A Change Is Gonna Come was then written and recorded the following Christmas, and released as part of his final album, Ain't That Good News in March 1964. But just before the song was due to be released as a single that December, Cooke was shot to death in Los Angeles under suspicious circumstances - ironically by a motel manager (you can read more about his death here).

Sam Cooke wasn't known for being particularly explicit with his approach to incorporating contemporary politics into his music, but A Change Is Gonna Come has since been one of the more effectual anthems of the American civil rights movement. It wasn't as well-received commercially as his other songs at first, but it was one Cooke felt very strongly about. In an NPR article, his biographer, Peter Guralnick tells all about Cooke's thoughts on the song.

As well as being undoubtedly political in nature though, this song is equal parts ominous, impactful and thought-provoking. One of my favourite lines (I don't know what's up there / Beyond the sky) brings to mind the idea of Judgement Day, and a profound doubt in his religious assurance that justice one day be served.

Cooke used the familiarity of the thoughts and views on racism and the social issues faced by African-Americans to create an original masterpiece that incited a poignant aura of what makes this song what it was then, what it is now and what it will be: brilliance. Props must also be given to René Hall for arranging the orchestral piece with that old Hollywood blockbuster resplendence. This song is, as far as my taste is concerned anyway, perfection.

Check out A Change Is Gonna Come via Sound Cloud below and let me know what you think.




Photo source: Vimeo.com
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