"A Change Is Gonna Come" detail
"A Change Is Gonna Come" Art Work In progress-newspaper articles on raw canvas
"A Change Is Gonna Come" Artwork In Progress-sketched images and text over articles
"A Change Is Gonna Come”
newspaper, acrylic on raw canvas 40” H X 46” W
The faces in the painting were influenced by an art work I did from a series called “People” oil pastel on paper 17” H X 13.5” W.
Throughout my life whenever I doodle I invariably draw faces as that is my natural inclination and when pairing these faces ”People”with the powerful words from the song by Sam Cooke it was a natural fit...“ A Change Is Gonna Come!” I am always moved when I hear this song which reminds me how powerful music and the arts are to encourage change.
The headlines of the included articles are “Russia ties take on new urgency” “Deportations could rattle economies” “Anxiety runs high along border” “Trumps shadow over Europe” Feeling like the worst scum.”
After the piece was painted you can still see and read parts of the articles showing through on the faces of “People” a reminder that even with change the shadow of the horrors of previous inhumanity still exists.
Background to the song “ A Change Is Gonna Come”
“There were a number of circumstances and events that inspired Cooke to write "A Change is Gonna Come." The song came to him in a dream, in its entirety.
After Cooke recorded "A Change is Gonna Come," he donated the song to the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) for use in an album the famous civil rights organization distributed in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1964.
Finally, Sam Cooke was inspired to write "A Change is Gonna Come" upon hearing Bob Dylan's classic song of protest, "Blowin' in the Wind." Cooke was shocked that a white American could write such a moving song that captured the frustrations and aspirations of black people so eloquently. As Dylan sang, "how many years can some people exist before they're allowed to be free? How many times can a man turn his head and pretend that he just doesn't see?" These are some pretty loaded questions. Sam Cooke felt that a black musician should have written "Blowin' in the Wind." He saw the song as a personal challenge - he needed to step up and write a song that captured the complex feelings and emotions that black Americans felt at the height of the civil rights struggle.
"A Change is Gonna Come" certainly proved that Cooke was up to the challenge. The song captures the aspirations and frustrations of African Americans during this period. There are clear illusions to the events that occurred at the hotel in Shreveport - "somebody keep telling me 'don't hang around.'" Or then there is the line that captures the pain that he felt following his son Vincent's death in a drowning accident in June 1963 - "It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die, cause I don't know what's up there beyond the sky." The agony he felt following his son's death clearly forced Cooke to question his religious faith.
But most importantly, despite all the anguish and all the despair, Sam Cooke remained optimistic. He knew that the African American community could not create the political, social, and economic changes that they desired if they became too disheartened. The last stanza captures this hopeful attitude. Cooke sings, "There been times that I thought I couldn't last for long, but now I think I'm able to carry on. It's been a long, a long time coming, but I know a change gonna come."