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Changes
Song

Changes

David Bowie
Album:
Hunky Dory

Song Meaning and Background of Changes by David Bowie


Changes, is a song by English singer-songwriter David Bowie, originally released on his 1971 album Hunky Dory.


At this point in his career, Bowie had experimented with numerous musical styles, all of which failed to earn him stardom. The lyrics of "Changes" reflect this, with the first verse focusing on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream. The second verse concerns clashes between children and their parents, urging them to allow their children to be themselves as teenagers, a topic Bowie had spoken out about before.


Musically, "Changes" is an art pop song that features a distinctive piano riff. Upon release as a single, "Changes" flopped like its parent album. It wasn't until the success of its follow-up The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars that the song garnered success.


After completing a promotional tour of America in early 1971, English singer-songwriter David Bowie returned to his home at Haddon Hall in Beckenham, London, and began writing songs.


Bowie plays a saxophone solo on the final recording – his first feature of the instrument – which he recollected was recorded "when I was still going through ideas of using melodic saxophone." Bowie has said that the track "started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway".


The lyrics of "Changes" focus on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream.


At this point in his career, Bowie was frequently being told how to musically progress by his managers and labels, leading him to experiment with genres such as folk, hard rock and soul.

This is reflected in the first verse, in which the narrator looks at himself through a mirror to find his identity.


The song's chorus, Bowie stuttering the 'ch' at the beginning of the word 'changes', has been compared to the English rock band the Who, specifically their 1965 song "My Generation". Both songs have stuttering vocals and similar lyrics ("hope I die before I get old" versus "pretty soon now you're gonna get older").


Bowie had previously spoken about this issue in an interview with The Times in 1968: "We feel our parents' generation has lost control, given up, they're scared of the future. I feel it's basically their fault that things are so bad."


Lyrics of Changes by David Bowie


Oh yeah

Mm

 

Still don't know what I was waiting for

And my time was running wild, a million dead-end streets and

Every time I thought I'd got it made

It seemed the taste was not so sweet

So I turned myself to face me

But I've never caught a glimpse

Of how the others must see the faker

I'm much too fast to take that test

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, don't want to be a richer man

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, just gonna have to be a different man

Time may change me

But I can't trace time

 

Oh yeah

 

I watch the ripples change their size

But never leave the stream of warm impermanence and

So the days float through my eyes

But still the days seem the same

And these children that you spit on

As they try to change their worlds

Are immune to your consultations

They're quite aware of what they're going through

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, don't tell them to grow up and out of it

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (Turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, where's your shame?

You've left us up to our necks in it

Time may change me

But you can't trace time

 

Strange fascination, fascinating me

Ah, changes are taking the pace I'm going through

 

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, oh, look out you rock 'n rollers

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes (turn and face the strange)

Ch-ch-changes, pretty soon now you're gonna get older

Time may change me

But I can't trace time

 

I said that time may change me

But I can't trace time

Release Date

1971

Songwriter/s

David Bowie

Producer/s

Ken Scott, David Bowie

Label/s

RCA

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