Song Spotlight: “A Change Is Gonna Come”

Raindrops on a window. Outside are shadows. Label reads "60s soul"
  • Mood: Slow, pensive, hopeful
  • Themes: Civil rights, song of change
  • Tempo: Slow
  • Genre/Style: Soul, R&B

Sam Cooke is considered to be the King of Soul. The subjects of his songs range from light to serious, and he knew the power that music has to address difficult subjects and create a sense of unity within a community. 

Sam Cooke wrote and released “A Change Is Gonna Come” amidst the civil rights movement in the United States. Inspired by a variety of personal events in his life, the song was most prominently based on a time when he and his entourage were turned away from a whites-only motel in Louisiana. He felt compelled to write a song that spoke to his struggles and the struggles of those around him.

The main refrain of the song states, “It’s been a long time coming, but I know a change is gonna to come.”

Here are some of the lyrics:

I was born by the river

In a little tent

Oh, and just like the river, I’ve been runnin’

Ever since


It’s been a long

A long time comin’, but I know

A change gon’ come

Oh, yes it will


This is a great song to use in a 1:1 setting or group and would go well with a collection of songs about change, songs from the 60s or the civil rights movement. It can be used as a transition into group discussion, an opportunity for musical engagement, movement and more. 

Try This:

Theme This song would fit well into a collection of Songs about Change, or songs from the 60s or other Civil Rights Songs. Other complementary songs may include “We Shall Not Be Moved,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” and “Sitting on the Dock Of The Bay.”

Discussion – Encourage participants to discuss their experiences around change or memories of the civil rights movement. Discuss the lyrics of the song: What do they feel the singer is expressing? Discuss healthy ways to manage stressful changes in life. 

Encourage group members to share pictures of themselves through the years and important changes. (Ex. wedding, graduation, new job).

Movement: Do gentle stretching exercises along with this song, or sway from side to side. 


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