Question: How many American Idol contestants does it take to completely ruin a song? Answer: If it’s truly a classic, like “A Change Is Gonna Come,” even Adam Lambert can’t ruin it.
Lots of people have recorded this song, and some have done a very creditable job with it. But no one has ever – or will ever, I’m sure – bring the depth of feeling to it as Sam Cooke did in the original recording in 1963.
Cooke went to talk to some sit-in demonstrators in Durham, North Carolina following a concert there. Known for light songs such as “You Send Me” and “Twisting the Night Away,” he wanted to make a statement about the changes taking place in society. He was also dealing with the death of his 18-month-old son in an accidental drowning that same year. He went back to the tour bus and wrote the first draft of “A Change Is Gonna Come.”
The song has gained in both popularity and influence in the decades since its release. It peaked at number 9 on the Billboard R&B Singles chart, and number 31 on the Billboard Hot 100. But the song became an anthem for the civil rights movement, and it’s now recognized as one of the greatest songs in pop music history. This song, which never reached the top 25 in its initial release, was voted the number 12 song in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Songs of All Time…