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Intro

Down on your luck? Feeling discouraged? Don't despair - things are about to take a turn for the better. At least, that's the message of Sam Cooke's celebrated 1964 song "A Change is Gonna Come." Picked up by the Civil Rights Movement as an anthem for change, this feat of songwriting acknowledges the emotional toll taken by decades of oppression, and then lifts you up with its message of hope. The haunting orchestral background music sets the stage for a tale of pain and struggle that (we can't help believing, when we hear it from Cooke) can still have a happy ending. And if all that hasn't sold you on the power of this song, just sit back and listen to Cooke's rich voice. There's no denying it: the man can sing.

About the Song

ArtistSam Cooke Musician(s)Sam Cooke (vocals)
AlbumAin't That Good News
Year1964
LabelRCA Victor
Writer(s)Sam Cooke (lyrics), Rene Hall (musical arrangement)
Producer(s)Hugo Peretti, Luigi Creatore
Learn to play: Tablature
Buy this song: Amazon iTunes
Try Listen and Learn (BETA)

Shmoop Connections

Explore the ways this song connects with the world and with other topics on Shmoop
Has change come, in the nearly half-century since Cooke's hopeful proclamation? If the 2008 election of the first black president, Barack Obama, is any indication, the United States is indeed a different place. But that doesn't mean that Cooke's message has lost its relevance. Despite the successes of the Civil Rights Movement, the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow continue to shape America. While it's stimulating your musical taste buds, "A Change is Gonna Come" just might give you an appetite for learning more about how people have overcome oppression in the past, and how members of all kinds of underprivileged minorities are coping today.

On the Charts

"A Change is Gonna Come" peaked at #31 on the Billboard Pop Singles chart in February 1965.

The song was listed as #12 on Rolling Stone's 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

Pitchfork included "A Change is Gonna Come" as the #3 song in their list of the 200 Greatest Songs of the 1960s.

The song was selected by the Library of Congress to be included in the National Recording Registry.

Sam Cooke was selected by Rolling Stone as the #4 artist on their list of the Greatest Singers of All Time.
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