About The Song
Cooke wrote this as a protest song to support the civil rights movement, as Black Americans fought for equality. Up to this point, most of his songs were either touching ballads (“You Send Me”) or lighthearted uptemo tunes (“Twistin’ The Night Away”). When Cooke heard Bob Dylan’s “Blowin’ In The Wind,” he became determined to write something similar – he couldn’t believe Dylan’s song wasn’t written by a black man.
Cooke was deeply affected by the death of his infant son, who drowned in a swimming pool in 1963. He started writing more introspective songs and took an interest in black history and politics.
Some of the lyrics were inspired by an incident where Cooke and some of his friends were arrested for disturbing the peace after they were denied rooms at a motel in Shreveport, Louisiana because they were black.
“A Change Is Gonna Come” was released as a single a few months after Cooke died. He was shot by a motel owner who claimed he was raping a young girl in one of the rooms. A lot of controversy surrounded his death; Cooke owned his own record label and publishing company, and some people thought he was killed as part of a plot.