Thursday, June 19, 2008

Under The Covers

Rumor has it that Barack Obama is looking for a campaign song, "A Change Is Gonna Come" is the ideal song for Obama's historical run for the White House. A change is so desperately needed in this country. "A Change Is Gonna Come" was composed by one of soul music's founding fathers, Sam Cooke, during the turbulent 60's. It's no coincidence that a gospel singer turned pop star wrote the highly emotional "A Change Is Gonna Come." Much like gospel staples "I Won't Complain" and "How I Got Over," "A Change Is Gonna Come" forces one to reflect on their life. Cooke was inspired by Bob Dylan's protest song "Blowing In The Wind," and two life-altering incidents; a conversation with sit-in demonstrators in Durham, North Carolina and the death of his infant son. The song, with it's dramatic orchestral backing and mournful french horns, exemplified the trials and tribulations of black America, especially the second verse, "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, oh yes it will." "A Change Is Gonna Come" appears on Cooke's final studio album, Ain't That Good News. Surprisingly, "A Change Is Gonna Come" only reached #9 on the Black Singles charts. In the years that followed, "A Change Is Gonna Come" became an anthem for the Civil Rights Movement. In 1966, Aretha Franklin wrapped her soulful gospel drenched vocals around "A Change Is Gonna Come" and payed homage to her musical idol. The song is included on 'Retha's '67 Atlantic Records debut, I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You, considered to be one the greatest soul albums of all time. Aretha's cover of the song is mind blowing, Aretha's opening note sends a chill through your body and for a second you forget "A Change Is Gonna Come" is a Sam Cooke song. Even though Aretha is one of music's greatest interpreters, Cooke's recording reigns supreme. "A Change Is Gonna Come" set the foundation for other socially-conscious songs such as Marvin's "Inner City Blues (Makes Me Wanna Holler)" and Curtis Mayfield's "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue." "A Change Is Gonna Come" ranks on Rolling Stone's list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time and was selected by the Library of Congress to the National Recording Registry, a list of sound recordings that "are culturally, historically, or aesthetically important, and/or inform or reflect life in the United States."