It's Been A Long Time Coming

It was this day in 1964 that Sam Cooke was shot and killed in Los Angeles.

He’s most known to people for songs like “Cupid” and “Twistin’ The Night Away”, but I don’t think it’s much of a stretch to suggest that the most important song Cooke ever wrote or recorded was one of the last, “A Change Is Gonna Come”. It remains one of the keystone anthems of the American civil rights movement, and a deeply moving and beautiful song in its own right. This article by Greil Marcus pretty much sums it up.

[Edit: for some reason, my YouTube embed doesn’t seem to be working. Go watch a video of the song here.]

I wonder what Cooke would think if he were alive today — how much of his change he would have actually seen in America.

I was born by the river in a little old tent
Oh, and just like that river, I’ve been runnin’ ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come
Oh, yes it is

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 is gonna come

I go to the movies and I go downtown
Somebody keeps telling me
“Don’t hang around”
It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know
A change is gonna come

Then I go to see my brother
And I say “Brother, help me please”
But he winds up knocking me
Back down on my knees

There been times that I thought
I couldn’t last for long
But somehow I’m able to carry on
It’s been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come

RIP, brother.

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