Songfacts®: You can leave comments about the song at the bottom of the page.
This was written by the songwriting team of Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick. The song was originally recorded by Wynonna Judd early in 1996, and then it became a big hit when Eric Clapton heard the song and recorded it as a duet with the R&B singer Babyface later that year.
Elton John's lyricist Bernie Taupin uses this as an example of a song that can succeed without a great title or lyric. He told Musician magazine: "What sold that song, I believe, is production. And it had a good melody. But don't listen to the lyric. Because the lyric is appalling. It's a bad lyric. There are some rhymes in there that are really awful. But that's not what sold the song."
This was featured in the John Travolta movie Phenomenon.
Clapton and Babyface performed this at the Grammys in 1997, where the song won the award for Record Of The Year, Song Of The Year and Best Male Pop Vocal Performance. (thanks, Bertrand - Paris, France)
The Clapton/Babyface combination brought together a Rock legend and an R&B kingpin, and the combination gave the song huge crossover appeal. The duo got together again when Babyface played on Clapton's album Pilgrim in 1998.
Gordon Kennedy told the story of this song in an interview with American Songwriter magazine: "'Change The World' was a song written over the course of a year by Tommy Sims, Wayne Kirkpatrick, and myself. On a recording session in Quad Studios in Nashville, in the early '90s, Wayne and I were recording some demos in an attempt to do the 'artist' thing. We recorded four songs that day, three of which wound up on Garth (Brooks)'s Chris Gaines CD (this would happen several years later).
During that session, Tommy was there playing bass and played us the nugget of an idea he had, wondering if it might be something that would work for the sound we were doing. He had the title and a chord progression and melody direction going. Wayne would ask him some months later for a tape of the idea so he could work on it. He wrote the lyrics to the chorus and all but one line of the second verse. Then, it went dormant again for a time before I asked Wayne about its progress. He gave me what he'd done on it. I finished writing the music, went to Columbus, Ohio and laid down a demo track with Tommy. He was there working on a church choir album. On the way home, I listened to a tape of the track and dictated lyrics into another little handheld recorder (I still have the micro-cassette!) I wrote the lyrics to the first verse and the missing line in the second verse. When I got home, I went into the studio and did a guitar and all of the vocals for a finished demo, the one Clapton heard later… None of the three of us were together when we wrote what we each wrote on the song."
The song was a massive AOR hit but Clapton was happy to take a walk in the commercial market as the guitarist made sure that he still kept one foot tapping on his blues roots. Clapton explained to Mojo
magazine May 2013: "When I heard Tommy Sims' demo. I could hear McCartney doing that, so I needed to, with greatest respect to Paul, take that and put it somewhere black. So I asked Babyface who, even though he may not be aware of it, gave it the blues thing. The first two lines I play on that song on the acoustic guitar are lines I quote wherever I can and they come from the beginning of 'Mannish Boy
' by Muddy Waters. On every record I make where I think. This has got a chance of doing well, I make sure I pay my dues on this. So I think I've found a way to do it, but it has to have one foot in the blues, even if its subtly disguised."
Steven Tyler of Aerosmith
Tyler talks about his true love: songwriting. How he identifies the beauty in a melody and turns sorrow into art.
Mike Watt - "History Lesson, Pt. 2"
Mike Watt of the Minutemen tells the story of the song that became an Indie Rock touchstone. It's also the story of what Mike calls "The Movement."
Dean wrote the screenplay and lyrics to all the songs in Footloose
. His other hits include "Fame" and "All The Man That I Need."