TGIF - Second Friday in October

These are some scary times, but along with the uncertainty there is always hope. The song I have selected for this week reflects that.

This song is closely linked to Sam Cooke, who, I believe, penned it. His recording was released after his murder and became a huge hit. I hadn't previously known that Otis Redding had recorded it as well. Both these men died prematurely, of unnatural causes (Sam Cooke was shot by a motel manager in 1964 under circumstances that remain murky to this day, and the plane upon which Otis Redding was a passenger crashed in a lake here in Wisconsin in 1967. The lone survivor of the crash, a member of the Bar-Kays, clung to a seat cushion in the icy waters until he was rescued.

Both these marvelously talented men, in my opinion, would have become superstars had they lived. There is no question that Sam Cooke liked the ladies - this fact figured prominently in his death - but womanizing ways or not, he had a wonderful vision that, as we all know, turned out to be true. One pundit predicted that the candidates' standing in mid-October will pretty much be how the election goes, which means that Sam's vision could become truer than any of us had ever dared hope.

Which version of A Change is Gonna Come do you like the best?

Sam Cooke

Otis Redding

I wish all of you a weekend both restful and productive. See you Monday.


Sean D. Young said...


I think I'm going with Sam all the way with this one. We've got to get together soon.

Unknown said...

You were correct that Sam wrote A Change is Gonna Come. It was released 11 days after his December 11, 1964 death.

You were incorrect that Sam's womanizing was a factor in his death. That's a wrong I've actively been trying to right. Truth is, Sam died because he refused to give in to those trying to capitalize on his success--a trait of heroes, not "hoes."

I don't blame you for your opinion because most people are under that impression until they learn the behind-the-scene facts.

I won't cast a vote on whose version is better because I'm obviously partial :^)

Erik Greene
Author, “Our Uncle Sam: The Sam Cooke Story From His Family's Perspective”

bettye griffin said...

Sean, I forgot to say that Sam's version is my favorite as well. I do love Otis, though.

Hi, Erik! Yes, I know there's a lot of misinformation about the circumstances of Sam Cooke's murder. I thought that the doubts came in regarding what actually happened at that motel, did the woman there with him make off with his wallet once he got undressed, did he attack the motel manager, believing she was harboring the woman, etc. I didn't think anyone disputed whether he was actually at the motel in the company of a woman. You're obviously an expert on the case. I'd love to hear the facts. Please feel free to share them, and thanks for commenting!

Anonymous said...

Bettye, this song just does something to me every time I hear it. We just buried one of my cousins this past weekend and to listen to this song, it just brings back memories because that's the era she grew up in. In between the tears are good memories though so I can smile too :)

Unknown said...


As I stated in my analysis of his death, I began by wiping the slate clean. I dismissed the questionable testimonies and started with the few facts I believed were accurate.

For years people have tried to make sense of Sam's case from the facts given, and that's ultimately the first mistake. There's no proof in the he said/she said testimonies of Lisa Boyer or Bertha Franklin, so I didn't focus on them.

I looked at the external factors--particularly the pressure he was under to give up a piece of his businesses--a major factor in his murder. The family had a sense of the stress Sam was under but didn't have the resources to follow up on his death at the time.

However, the big breakthrough came when I was put in contact with a person whose account of what happened that night was shockingly more plausible than the official version. I tell this version of how Sam was involuntarily taken to the Hacienda Motel, shot and left for dead, managed to seek help, and was eventually silenced. All the other "facts" of the official version were window dressing to cover-up a rather sloppy "hit."

The contridictions in the testimonies in the Coroner's Inquest will make your head spin, and I break down how illogical some of them were. Sam was done wrong, and my effort has been to bring this injustice to light.


bettye griffin said...

Shelia, I agree it's a very powerful song.

Erik, Thanks again for sharing your expert knowledge of this tragic murder case with us.