I remember looking through a friend’s Rolling Stone as a freshman in college. It was the issue that touted the “500 Greatest Songs of All Time”. Being a list fiend and a music geek, I devoured the list, skimming through 500 - 101. The top 100 was what I really cared about. Hell, the Top 25 was I all I really cared about. I wanted to make sure I had every one in my music library so I could make my own iTunes playlist based on the Rolling Stone list.
There were a few songs I didn’t have, so I bought them on iTunes to complete my playlist. However, there was one song I didn’t own that I was completely blown away by and that was #12, Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come”. For some odd reason, I had NEVER heard the song until 2005, when the list came out. The first time I did hear it, in my stuffy college dorm room, I was nearly moved to tears. Since then, the song seems to have become a staple of American cultural literacy. President Obama even referred to the song directly in a speech after he was elected as President of the United States in 2008, saying “It’s been a long time coming, but tonight, change has come to America.”
Below are various versions of the song, in chronological order. First, Sam Cooke’s original recording, released after his death in 1964. Otis Redding included the song as “Change Gonna Come” on his 1965 album Otis Blue: Otis Redding Sings Soul. In 1971, Chicago underground soul legend Baby Huey recorded his version of the song that was released posthumously in 1971 on The Baby Huey Story: The Living Legend.