"A Change Is Gonna Come" as written by and Sam Cooke....
I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I've been running ev'r since
It's been a long time, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

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 gonna come, oh yes it will

I go to the movie and I go downtown
Somebody keep tellin' me don't hang around
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come, oh yes it will

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin' me
Back down on my knees, oh

There have been times that I thought I couldn't last for long
But now I think I'm able to carry on
It's been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change is gonna come, oh yes it will


Lyrics submitted by Nelly

"A Change Is Gonna Come" as written by Sam Cooke

Lyrics © ABKCO Music Inc.

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A Change Is Gonna Come song meanings
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16 Comments

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  • +3
    General CommentOk I just saw an excellent programe on BBC about Sam Cooke, and it explained this song in good detail. Sam Cooke heard the song "Blowing in the wind" by Bob Dylan and thought that protest songs like that should come out of the black community. (I have heard from other sources his actual words were "Since when do whiteboys make music like that?") So he rose to the artistic challenge presented by that song and more than met it with "A Change Is Gonna Come"

    I was born by the river
    In a little tent
    And just like the river
    I've been running ever since

    (-In reference to the Born-Again Church baptisms where they submerge you in a river. Sam Cooke was brought up in and first performed with these Churchs)

    It's been a long, long time coming
    But I know a change is gonna come
    Oh, yes it is

    (- this was the 60s, people did believe that big change was inevtiable, and soon)

    It's been too hard living
    But I'm afraid to die
    I don't know what's up there beyond the sky

    (-fairly self explanatory really)

    It's been a long, long time coming
    But I know a change is gonna come
    Oh yes it will

    I go to the movie
    And I go Downtown
    Somebody Keep telling me
    Dont hang around

    (- They left ths fairly ambigious, but the suggestion was that he would go downtown and either it refered to the way that the owners of restaurants and cinemas would tell him to 'move along' cos they didnt want any black faces on their establisment or that you would get all the young radical blacks saying "Dont hang around! Revolution now!" etc)

    Then I go to my brother
    I say brother help me please
    But he winds up knocking me
    Back down on my knees

    (- In Sam Cookes own words, this was in reference to the white establisment, which was completely unhelpfull and hostile towards the black community)

    There's been times that I thought
    I wouldn't last for long
    But now I think I'm able to carry on

    (- perhaps Sam saying that fame and fortune have made things easier for him... Lol I realise now that I should say Mr Cooke as I'm not actually on first name terms with the man)

    It's been a long, long time coming
    But I know a change is gonna come
    Oh, yes it will

    Eerily, when Sam first played this song to friends and family they all said it reminded them of death. This meant that Sam only performed it live two or three times because it spooked him out. However, on the night it went to press on the B-side of his new single, he was murdered.
    Comrade_Liaron May 15, 2005   Link
  • +2
    General Commenti am by far contesting your post Hooby but i'd like to think that this song had transended beyond the meaning(s) in which it was originally composed. In contemporary society this song has been used to denote overcoming in general. Overcoming personal struggles, overcoming adversity. Sadly, this song was embraced after the death of Mr. Cooke, just as most of the singers/artist that we have grown to love and charish from generation to generation.
    veeimanon November 24, 2004   Link
  • +2
    General Commentthis song was inspired by (1) hearing a socially conscious song like dylan's blowin in the wind and (2) If I'm not mistaken, Sam was dealing with his depression after the death of one of his children
    cdineroon June 13, 2006   Link
  • +1
    General CommentA Change is gonna come... woot woot :]
    <3 life n muzicon December 09, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis song's got a double meaning.....

    1. coming out of the shadow of racism

    2. becoming more than just a backwater singer
    Hoobyon April 15, 2003   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI have never got to hear the Sam Cooke version of this song, but I have heard the Otis Redding cover, and it's excellent.

    Yeh I agree with both posts 1 and 2 about the meaning.
    Comrade_Liaron April 06, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentJust heard the Sam Cooke version. Pure gold.
    Comrade_Liaron April 17, 2005   Link
  • 0
    General CommentHeard this song for the first time tonight and Sam's voice just gives me the chills. Beautiful.
    7aint9on September 11, 2006   Link
  • 0
    General Commentactually, cdinero, both songs were written in 1963, so i doubt either was inspired by the other, moreso inspired by the times.
    bluesforgotten12on November 18, 2007   Link
  • 0
    General CommentReally fantastic. I'll take a wild guess at racism as the topic being covered here...
    amongthetreeson December 14, 2007   Link

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