Saturday, February 01, 2014

Sam Cooke's "A change is gonna come" had roots in Shreveport, says biographer

Sam Cooke in B&W by epiclectic
Sam Cooke in B&W, a photo by epiclectic on Flickr.

"Fifty years ago this week, Sam Cooke strolled into a recording studio, put on a pair of headphones, and laid down the tracks for one of the most important songs of the civil rights era," says

It continues, "Rolling Stone now calls 'A Change Is Gonna Come' one of the greatest songs of all time, but in 1964 its political message was a risky maneuver."

Author of Cooke's biography, Peter Guralnick, wrote "In the fall of 1963, Cooke faced a direct affront: He and his band were turned away from a Holiday Inn in Shreveport, La.

"He just went off," Guralnick says. "And when he refused to leave, he became obstreperous to the point where his wife, Barbara, said, 'Sam, we'd better get out of here. They're going to kill you.' And he says, 'They're not gonna kill me; I'm Sam Cooke.' To which his wife said, 'No, to them you're just another ...' you know."

Cooke was arrested and jailed, along with several of his company, for disturbing the peace. Guralnick says "A Change Is Gonna Come" was written within a month or two after that."

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