I was born in 1976. Everything I know about the Civil Rights Movement has come from a history book or television or the news. I have no relatives who can speak specifically to it either, as my mom and her family came to this country in 1971/1972. As someone who has experienced the past forty and change years, I can say that the fight isn’t over. We’ve got a long way to go. But I can say there has been definitive forward movement in the years since Selma and Rosa Parks.
I wonder what Sam Cooke would’ve thought had he not been murdered two weeks before “Change” was released. I do know (thanks Wikipedia) that he only performed the song once in his lifetime, viewing “Change”’s lyrics as spooky and ominous, which they kind of are. They are also defiant, mournful and hopeful all at the same time. A lot of complex emotions to wrangle with for a pop song, particularly one written by a singer who was looking to maintain mass appeal. I don’t think so. Hell, people sing the song today and even though it evokes memories of a time that’s passed, most of the lyrics are still very relevant today. One thing that’s definitely not changed is the uplift that this song ultimately inspires. There is no doubt in Sam Cooke’s mind that a change will come. There’s no doubt in my mind that change will continue to come.
Random weirdness: “Change”’s R&B peak? Number nine.
NOT QUITE FIVE STARS…
“Champagne Supernova” by Oasis (1995): (What’s The Story) Morning Glory was on repeat during my last couple of months at Tower (I got let go mid-January ‘96). The album marked my first prolonged exposure to Oasis, and “Champagne Supernova” was already a favorite. Lyrics that were easy to remember-nonsensical as they were-plus a melody that was tailor-made for hands waving in the air during last call. Or lighter waving at a concert.
There’s a tinge of nostalgia in the lyrics and the music, because duh…it’s a song by the world’s greatest Beatles tribute band. All of these factors combined to ultimately make “Champagne Supernova” a karaoke favorite. I’m not so fond of this last bit.
Why? Because “Champagne Supernova” is seven fucking minutes long. Karaoke is a hit-it-and-quit-it operation. No one wants to stand by and wait for their song to come on when you’re drunkenly waving back and forth for 420 seconds. This song and “Paradise By The Dashboard Light” need to be banned from karaoke establishments for all eternity.
It actually says a lot that my love for “Champagne Supernova” has held as strong as it has despite the previously mentioned bone of contention and my hatred for Noel Gallagher, who is the British Kanye West only twice as mean and ⅓ as talented.
“A Change Is Gonna Come” by Baby Huey (1971): A psychedelic freak-out take on Sam Cooke’s classic by one of early funk’s unsung heroes. It’s nine frightening minutes long, but perfectly captures the tension that was felt in post-riot/MLK Black America.