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Change The World

by

Eric Clapton



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."
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton Artistfacts
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Comments (9):

Eric 'Slowhand/The God' Clapton: "Babyface was one of those great catalysts for me. I’d seen him on TV doing his thing with acoustic guitar and I was thinking, 'this is a guy who’s in the R&B world, he’s a producer and yet he knows how to get that minimal thing and make a small sound really powerful.' And when I heard the song, I put it on in my car and was driving around listening to it about 200 times without stopping. And I just knew it was a hit. I’m the guy that used to hate the idea of pop songs and I was so against that for myself. But when the music is that good, I start to become okay about it. And this really was an opportunity it would have been childish to walk away from. And there’s only one guy I knew that would make it absolutely right and that was Babyface". [From Guitarist, February 2003]
- DeeTheWriter, Saint Petersburg, Russia Federation
Color me red-faced! When I heard Wynonna's version recently, I thought, "What a decent remake of a Clapton song!" Looks like I got it backwards.
- Karen, Manchester, NH
Clapton struggled with making his own songs because he was trying to bridge the gap between blues and rock. This is most probably why he plays and modifys so many other songs, "Blues" usually, and adds his rock taste to them. He also usually writes when he feels the need to express something, like in the song "Layla."
- Adam, Darlington, SC
Olivia: I've been looking at several Clapton songs on here just now, to find out that none of them were actually his songs (After Midnight, Cocaine, and now this one). Makes me wonder if he wrote any of his songs. :) But I know he did.
- Eric, Bend, OR
Beautiful song.All congratulations to songwriting team (Tommy Sims, Gordon Kennedy and Wayne Kirkpatrick.
Zexy
from Serbia Belgade (bombing in 1999)
- zexy, beograd, SC
Nice song !!!
- MADZIE, MANILA, Other
I can relate Olivia. I was so disappointed to find out that Eric Clapton and Babyface neither wrote nor performed this song orginally. No matter, though. It's still one of my favorites.
- DC, Kansas City, MO
yeah, great song- but i hate finding out that an artist you love didnt write the song you fell in love with- its disappointing- i still love clapton though
- olivia, Perth, Australia
great song , enjoyed the movie as well
- pete, nowra, Australia
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