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A Change is Gonna Come

A Change is Gonna Come


by Sam Cooke


Sam Cooke gave the musician and composer Rene Hall free reign to write the musical arrangement of "A Change is Gonna Come." The arrangement that Hall created is at times haunting, even jarring - just listen to the prelude with the strings. Hall's composition included parts for strings, the French horn, and the timpani, in what proves to be an interesting mix of sounds and textures. The parts that the strings and the horns play change during each of the first three verses, and then the song builds to a towering crescendo, as Cooke sings "but he winds up knocking me back down on my knees. Oooohhhhhh!"

What is incredible here is the way in which the orchestral arrangement and Sam Cooke's vocals work so well together. It doesn't seem like they would complement each other so well, but they do. And if anything, this is a testament to Cooke's incredible singing abilities. He had tremendous control over his voice - he could use his voice like musical instrument. Cooke was able to convey tremendous feeling and emotion without having to scream or shout. This is no small feat. In "A Change is Gonna Come," Cooke harkens back to his gospel roots, busting out a vocal style that sounds much more spiritual than most of his pop hits. You can feel the pain in his voice, just as you can feel the hope. If Martin Luther King Jr. provided the political vision for black Americans in the mid-1960s, Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" most certainly served as their anthem of hope despite the pain.

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