Weekend song suggestion: “A Change Is Gonna Come”

bettye lavette 2

Bettye LaVette, 2008.

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Every once in a while, a song sticks in our brains over here at The Brew and this week, it’s Sam Cooke’s powerful civil rights anthem, “A Change Is Gonna Come.

Crystal Santiful, of Park Heights, put it there on Wednesday night, when she rose to the microphone at Taxpayers’ Night and sang the song beautifully to the Baltimore City Council. She later explained to us that conditions in her struggling neighborhood were what inspired her musical message: “I just got mad that things aren’t better.”

We wish we or someone had recorded Crystal’s performance but, failing that, here are some other versions of the song that might suit Baltimore after a rainy and news-soaked week . Whether the change you hope is gonna come is a better city, a better neighborhood . . . or better weather, you’ll find this song uplifting, we’re pretty sure.

Please share any others you recommend!

We’ve got Sam Cooke’s 1963 single, of course, but highly recommend our second choice, a duet sung in 2009 in front of the Lincoln Memorial at President Obama’s inauguration by Jon Bon Jovi and Bettye LaVette, who seemingly puts every year of her  amazing and uplifting hard-knock life and lost-and-found career into her bravura performance:


A Change Is Gonna Come

I was born by the river in a little tent
Oh and just like the river I’ve been running ever since
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come. Oh yes it will.

It’s been too hard living but I’m afraid to die
Cause I don’t know what’s up there beyond the sky
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come. Oh yes it will.

I go to the movie and I go downtown somebody keep telling me don’t hang around
It’s been a long, a long time coming
But I know a change gonna come. Oh yes it will.

Then I go to my brother
And I say brother help me please
But he winds up knockin’ me
Back down on my knees.


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 is gonna come. Oh yes it will.

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  • Unellu

    Bravo!  Poems and songs for protest and for expressing pain, sorrow and joy is a human tradition that goes back millennia.  This is a beautiful song–it expresses the pain of the dispossessed and oppressed but it does not show disaffection.  It is full of hope and Crystal Santiful, I commend you for your unselfconscious rendition to the city council.  Only with poetry and song can we redeem ourselves.       

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