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Two-way inspiration between Cooke and Dylan

Sam Cooke

A Change is Gonna Come

Released: December 21st, 1964

Tracks Sam Cooke

The events we write about at Gaslight Records happened in some form or another 50 years ago to the day. Roll along with us and imagine you are back in 1969.

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Less than a year before Sam Cooke's tragic murder he wrote "A Change Is Gonna Come", which became an anthem for the civil rights movement and one of the singer's most celebrated songs.

Cooke's inspiration for the song came after hearing Bob Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind", and from an incident where he and a group of friends were refused entry to a whites only hotel in Louisiana - The New York Times reported on this under the headline, "Negro band leader held in Shreveport."

"from now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth."

Cooke's reaction to "Blowin' In The Wind" was apparently a sense of shame that he hadn't written a song like it; but also amazement that a white man could so perfectly capture what was as the heart of the civil rights movement. Cooke was enamoured with Dylan after this point, saying of his album that "from now on, it's not going to be about how pretty the voice is. It's going to be about believing that the voice is telling the truth."

The admiration evidently went both ways: In his 2003 autobiography , Dylan wrote "Sometimes you know things have to change, are going to change, but only you can feel it - like in that song of Sam Cooke's, 'Change is Gonna Come' - but you don't know it in a purposeful way".

In 2004, Dylan performed "A Change Is Gonna Come" at the Apollo Theatre. He was welcomed to the stage by Ossie Davis, who had also introduced him during the 1963 'March On Washington' (the same event where Dr. Martin Luther King famously gave his "I have a dream" speech). In his 2004 introduction, Davis explained the influence of "Blowin' In The Wind" on Cooke's song, saying, "One day Sam heard a song that asked a mighty important question, it prompted him to write his most heart felt and moving work."

Two-way inspiration between Cooke and Dylan
In 1963 Ossie Davis introduced Bob Dylan at The March On Washington. He welcomed him again in 2004 before he played 'A Change Is Gonna Come.'

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