David Bowie – Changes

This is the first Bowie song I remember hearing when I was really young. I associated it more with “Ziggy Stardust” as I remember cousins talking about him. This song was not a massive hit but is still continually played on the radio.

It was on my personal favorite album by Bowie…Hunky Dory.

The song features the work of musicians like Rick Wakeman, Mick Ronson, and Bowie playing the saxophone himself. According to Bowie, the song started out as a parody of night club life but evolved into a criticism of an artist looking for new ways to reinvent himself. Bowie continually reinvented his image, and the song eventually became a close relation of Bowie himself.

Bowie wrote this when he was going through a lot of personal change. Bowie’s wife, Angela, was pregnant with the couple’s first child, Duncan. Bowie got along very well with his father and was very excited to have a child of his own.

The song peaked at #66 in the Billboard 100 in 1972 but recharted at #41 in 1975.

It charted for the first time on the UK Singles Chart in 2016 at number 49 following Bowie’s death.

From Songfacts

This is a reflective song about defying your critics and stepping out on your own. It also touches on Bowie’s penchant for artistic reinvention.

According to Bowie, this song was a “kind of throwaway” – but people kept chanting for it at concerts and thus it became one of his most popular and enduring songs. Bowie had no idea it was going to become so successful, but the song connected with his young audience who could relate to lyrics like “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.”

Bowie had just started using a keyboard to write songs, which opened up new possibilities for him in terms of melody and structure. This fresh approach resulted in “Changes.”

Bowie played the sax on this track, and his guitarist, Mick Ronson, arranged the strings. Rick Wakeman, who would later became a member of the prog rock band, Yes, played the piano parts at the beginning and end. Bowie gave Wakeman a lot of freedom, telling him to play the song like it was a piano piece. The piano Wakeman played was the famous 100-year old Bechstein at Trident Studios in London, where the album was recorded; the same piano used by Elton John, The Beatles and Genesis.

Bowie’s stuttered vocals in this song (“Ch-Ch-Changes”) are some of the most famous stutters in rock. It came well after “My G-G-Generation” but predated “B-B-B-Bennie And The Jets.

According to Mike Garson, who became Bowie’s keyboard player in 1972, when he auditioned for the gig, he played the first eight seconds of “Changes” when Bowie stopped him and gave him the gig.

Changes

Oh, yeah
Mmm

Still don’t know what I was waitin’ for
And my time was runnin’ 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
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
There’s gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

Mmm, 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 goin’ 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 fascinations fascinate me
Ah, changes are takin’
The pace I’m goin’ through

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes
Turn and face the strange
Ch-ch-changes
Ooh, 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

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

49 thoughts on “David Bowie – Changes”

    1. It surprised me also that he played it on the recording. This is the era of Bowie I like best. I like all of them but this one speaks to me the most.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. A good song for sure. “Space Oddity” was the first song I heard from him, right around same time Elton’s “Rocketman” was big. I thought both were outstandingly cool.
    Never knew Bowie played sax on this, that’s a neat bit of trivia. Also, looking at the lyrics, all these years I thought it ended “time may change me/but I can’t CHANGE time” not “trace”. So I learned 2 things today…thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m SO glad you said that. I was going to put that in the post! I always thought it was Change Time not trace time. Same thing with me.
      I always connected this with Ziggy because of the time I guess.

      Like

  2. That had to be the first Bowie song I ever heard also- and was my favorite Bowie for a long time… Got to go with Life On Mars as my favorite now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my first rock memories around 73 or 74 is Bowie as Ziggy…this song came with it. I didn’t know who Bowie was at that age…just Ziggy.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Bowie’s music has always been in the background of my life on the radio. My parents never played him in the house, tho.

    When Let’s Dance came out, he just exploded into the GenXers teen years, en masse. If you didn’t know who he was before, you damn sure did then. He just moved seamlessly thru generations, speaking to each one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of my first rock memories was Ziggy and this song. My parents didn’t play him for sure lol. I learned from my cousins and teens that were at my grandmothers in the 70s

      Like

      1. I just tested it. I could alter your comment, above but, couldn’t save it. It threw an error. SAVED by the error! LOL!

        If you have the phone app, look at the “More” button under someone’s comments (in the panel)…either on your site or someone else’s…. test I edited it

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You could already change anyone’s comment on YOUR blog. That shows up in the Admin. and you can edit on the phone.

        The “more” button is showing up under your comments (in the panel on the phone) on YOUR site. But, I do get an error when I try.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. See I never paid attention to editing someone else…See those pesky details again!
        I don’t like that at all. I mean if you don’t like something trash it..
        I don’t even get a “more” button on your site.

        Like

      4. No, but the issue reported is being tracked on Github. One of our developers was able to replicate on a device. And while the option was there for that person, edits couldn’t actually be saved. It’s an odd issue, indeed. Thanks for helping test it all.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s what I told the folks that are sending me emails. You can get in to another bloggers comments on their site and make changes…you just can’t save. You get an error message.

        Liked by 2 people

      6. I was reading up on that. They have it covered.

        I just responded to another email with more screen captures. One guy was looking for the “More” button in the “Comments” (here) but, the “More” shows up in the Notification Panel. When I got this message from you, I selected “Edit”, I got into your comment, I typed “Test” and, when I tried to “Save”, I got the error message.

        There is also an “Edit” button that shows up in the Notification Panel in the Reader (what I am on, now). When I select that, it throws me to MY site for editing comments, not Max’s comments. There is also a “SPAM” & a “Trash”, too…plus, I can see Max’s “Approve” check. I haven’t tested to see if any of those work but, I’m curious as to why all of these options are showing up to me on Max’s comments.

        Liked by 2 people

      7. Just did some more testing. I could “Unapprove” your comment, I could “SPAM” your comment and I could “Trash” your comment and, each time, I got a notification in my panel that it had worked (all in the Reader). But, when I did a Ctrl+Shift+R, your comment returned.

        This just tells me you have a bigger issue than just what the phone app is doing.

        Liked by 1 person

      8. No. You and I are conversing on Max’s site…not mine. I’m not the owner of this blog. I can see and use tools that only HE should be able to see.

        Why should I be able to see HIS approve check, HIS SPAM button, HIS Edit button & HIS Trash button in MY panel? I should only be seeing mine. Those selections did not used to be there a week ago.

        Liked by 1 person

      9. I sent one more email with screen captures from the Reader. Shortly before I sent the email, it appears they fixed the issue in the Reader panel.

        I’m assuming they haven’t released WP 14.9 for Android, yet. My phone hasn’t updated, yet but, I read on GitHub that it is done.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘cuz…tech… iOs and Android are different beasts. Sometimes it’s a design decision, and other times it’s updates for one or the other. In this case, maybe a combo. We are working actively on this and hope to make Reader changes soon so the appls line up better. Hopefully within a few months. *Note: it’s always helpful to let us know using the Contact Us form in the Help & Support section of the app when you notice a difference like that, and we can file a request for an update. When reporting, it’s super helpful to give us a short list of steps to reproduce (even if it seems obvious to you where to find something) or a screenshot so we know exactly where to look to see what you are seeing.

    Like

Leave a Reply to badfinger20 (Max) Cancel reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s