It’s Been A Long Time Coming, But I Know A Change Is Gonna Come

To celebrate hahamusic‘s one-month anniversary, I thought I’d go back to our roots, so to speak. We started out with Aretha Franklin covering the Sam Cooke song, “You Send Me,” but that’s not the only Cooke song Aretha covered. On I Never Loved a Man…, Aretha covers Cooke’s masterpiece, “A Change is Gonna Come,” which he wrote after hearing Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind,” and was surprised that a white man could write a song so aware and perceptive.

It’s interesting to listen to the different versions back-to-back, as with any original and cover. Cooke’s (which you can get in this collection) is plaintive and yearning; the beautifully subtle orchestration conveys the seriousness of the message, and you can hear the pain and suffering clearly in his weary, but crystal-clear voice. It’s brilliance is in its simplicity. Cooke makes sure the message is right out there, without any distractions.

Aretha’s version starts with a credit to Cooke, and throughout the song, she begins lyrics with, “he said…,” so it’s clear she’s telling someone else’s story. But at the same time, her version has its own message and meaning. It’s more forceful than Cooke’s, less sad, more celebratory. Like that change is coming right up behind her, and fast; she’s just announcing the arrival.

As I write this, I’m watching Eyes On The Prize (a great documentary showing on PBS about the Civil Rights movement) and both versions are a touching soundtrack to the footage of some of our bravest citizens forcing America to change for the better. They weren’t about to wait around for that change to come to them. The narrator has just said, “It was a hard fight, but the prize was freedom. And no American could afford to lose,” and “A Change Is Gonna Come” expresses that sentiment perfectly.

Sam Cooke – A Change Is Gonna Come

Aretha Franklin – A Change Is Gonna Come

PS, There’s also a version of “A Change” done by Otis Redding, which has a fantastic guitar line, but (I am embarrassed to write) I don’t have a copy.

posted by Adam

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One response to “It’s Been A Long Time Coming, But I Know A Change Is Gonna Come

  1. Leela James. She tears it up!!!!

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