Louis Armstrong Back in the Day

Louis Armstrong Back in the Day
With His Signature White Handkerchief and Smile

The significance of the blues aesthetic for those who are not professionally conversant in musical notation or the academic discipline of music or jazz history.

Friday, May 14

A Change Is Gonna Come by Sam Cooke

The young and stylish Aretha.  Nobody like her ever.

"A Change is Gonna Come" was a 1964 single written and first recorded in 1963 and released by RCA Victor shortly after Cooke's death in 1964.  The song came to be emblematic of the sixties Civil Rights Movement with its inflections of protest, utopian aspirations for freedom and soulfulness, as well as its blues and gospel blend. Recently learned how to sing this and accompany myself on the piano, albeit in a very rudimentary way. My piano voice teacher Jana Jillo and her husband guitarist Tony say that it feels like a lament, which also seems right. So many different kinds of ancestral sadness.

They say Cooke was moved to write it by two incidents.  The first was the death of his 18 month old son Vincent who was accidentally drowned in June of that year.  The second incident was when Cooke and his band were arrested for disturbing the peace for trying to register at a hotel in Shreveport, Louisiana.  The change that he predicted was presumably relates to the loosening of racial segregation and hatred, which he would not live to see. Meanwhile everything continues to circle back as well as I am now in the South of France at the age of 66, 57 years after my first visit, and the French don't look anywhere nearly as happy to see me as they were in 1961when I was 9 and they were flabbergasted by international headlines concerning Civil Rights violence.

Aretha Franklin did a crucial recording of this song as well, accompanied on piano by herself,  mourning the premature death of her dear friend and musical mentor.  Otis Redding, whose death occured prematurely as well, also did an important recording of the song in 1965.

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