For a long time, Sam Cooke was a brilliant businessman and a beautiful voice. He recorded numerous top ten songs, started his own record label and was fast on his way to becoming a reasonably important cultural icon. Then he heard Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind” and suddenly all of his success wasn’t enough. He couldn’t remain quiet about the trumped up arrests and the stifling inequality. If Bob Dylan could comment on the Civil Rights Struggle, so could he. The result was one of the most beautiful pieces of music ever recorded. Honest and haunting, “A Change Is Gonna Come” was voted as the twelfth greatest song of all-time by Rolling Stone, and it ultimately became the piece of music we most closely relate to the fight against inequality. Unfortunately, Cooke didn’t live to see it released. He was robbed of both his clothing and wallet by a prostitute. He ran to a hotel manager for help, who, fearful of a screaming naked black man, shot and severely beat him with a broomstick until he died. Chargers were never filed against her.
A few years back, Peter Guralnick published what many consider to be the formative biography on the singer Dream Boogie: The Triumph Of Sam Cooke. Dick Clement and Ian Le Frenais have since adapted it into a screenplay, and now, according to THR, ABKCO, the holder of most of Cooke’s master recordings, is actively looking to make the biopic happen. No director or stars have been signed, but the script does cover the musician’s entire life. Expect the result to be happy, sad, joyful and triumphant.
I’ve gone ahead and embedded Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” below. If you’re not at work, take a listen. It’s still just as beautiful nearly fifty years later…
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