Sam Cooke vs. Tupac Shakur…John Coltrane wins.

I need to change.

There are things in my life I need to correct, what they are-we’ll get to that when the time is right, but for now, I question: What is change?

I’ve always asked myself: who was right? Sam Cooke or Tupac Shakur?

Both died at a young age. Both were amazing musicians. And both were Black men with a message about change.

Sam Cooke’s “A Change is gonna come” has resonated off the walls of every Southern Baptist church in the bible belt of America, and beyond.

While Tupac’s “Changes” has influenced the world over, and recently made the Roman Catholicism headlines as it was added to the Pope’s playlist.

Both speak on the topic of change, but Cooke’s spiritual optimism versus Tupac’s reality check have always left me asking…change? WHAT’S THAT?

In my eyes, people change one of two ways: they change by choice…or they change by force.

When I think about Change, I initially think of the juxtaposition between Sam Cooke’s spiritual optimism versus Tupac’s reality check. Wondering to myself if Change is possible?

And then I look to stories that exemplify change: The story of Moses in the Bible- a murderer turned leader, the story of Malcolm X- a street hustler turned community vanguard, and most of all…I think of the story of John Coltrane.

Mr. Coltrane was one of the greatest jazz musicians to ever live, but he wouldn’t have dawned that title if it wasn’t for his DECISION to change.

Coltrane, a young acclaimed musician, known for playing jazz that was “ahead of his time”, became engulfed in the heroin epidemic of inner city America circa the mid 1900’s. His addiction deteriorated relationships with both his wife and his business partners (Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie and others), and caused Coltrane to make that change…

the story goes that Coltrane locked himself in a room in Philadelphia, Pa. He fed himself nothing but bread and water. His rehab process eventually crossed paths with the process of spiritual enlightenment. Even if by choice, change is far from an easy process. Coltrane periodically kicked his habit, but it was his moments of clarity that brought about some of the most transcendental jazz music the word has ever known. Coltrane’s effort to reinvent himself showed through production of many classics, but my favorite, “A Love Supreme”, has been my motivation to kick some the habitual actions that have been keeping me from reaching my highest potential.

With this said, I’ll leave this post with two Coltrane qutoes:

“You can play a shoestring if you’re sincere.”- John Coltrane.

I just think thats clever… And the next one, well it’s all about change.

“I’ve found you’ve got to look back at the old things and see them in a new light.”- John Coltrane.

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