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Changes by David Bowie

Album: Hunky DoryReleased: 1971Charted:
  • 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.
  • 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. This optimism shines through in "Changes."
  • According to Bowie, this started out as a parody of a nightclub song - "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.
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Comments: 31

I think that David Bowie was always signing about the same experience that he had when writing songs for Hermione and found a giant Shemale inside himself which he calls variously "The girl with the mousy hair" and "The Man who sold the world" the Starman and the stars in "the stars are out Tonight" and the woman in the mirror in "Where are we know" and "the strange" in this song, your eyes (the skull) in Blackstar
Bowie admits that he is always singing about the same thing at the 4:40 mark in
Where at least Life on Mars and Man who sold the World are the same subject. I think Derrida calls her "The Ear of the Other" and in his book on Europe, "Another Heading" or in French l'Autre Cap which is probably a reference to Freud's Hörkappe which he mentions with a diagram here
"We might perhaps add that the ego sports an 'acoustic cap', but on one side only."

I have just realised the a possible import of Freud's reference to "one side only," and fact that it is on "crooked" or "wrong," though he himself mentions "cerebral anatomy".
Timtak - Yamaguchi
On October 28th 1974, David Bowie played the first of seven sold-out nights at Radio City Music Hall in New York City...
Just over a month later on December 1st, 1974 "Changes" entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart at position #89; and on January 25th, 1975 it peaked at #41 {for 1 week}...
Two years earlier on April 9th, 1972 it entered the Top 100 for the first time, at that time it reached #66...
It spent a grand total of 18 weeks on the Top 100; 7 weeks in 1972 and 11 weeks in 1974/1975...
Mr. Bowie, born David Robert Jones, will celebrate his 68th birthday in three months on January 8th {2015}.
Barry - Sauquoit, Ny
I don't know about you guys but I really love the piano part in this.Stefanie - Rock Hill, Sc
Kent from Toronto, you left out the most famous stutter of all: "Talkin' 'bout my g-g-generation" by The Who. The oldest song on the list--maybe before your time. A spectacularly talented band, but "Hope I die before I get old" is sounding particularly ironic after watching them on this year's Super Bowl halftime show.Guy - Woodinville, Wa
Bowie sang with Queen, the Rolling Stones, Iggie Pop and helped out on many other Brit-bands. I think he even played a few licks with the Plastic Ono Band - so yes, he probably knew, and knew well, all the band icons of the 60s and 70s.Linc - Beaumont, Tx
The correct lyrics are "turn and face the strange".

Source: http://www.davidbowie.com/news/newsContent.php?id=20070419

"...we were singing 'Changes' for the purposes of a sound-check. When we reached the chorus David stopped the band, walked over to Gui and me, and asked us to sing our part. We duly obliged. David doubled up with laughter. For two-and-a-half months we had been singing 'turn and face the strain' instead of 'turn and face the strange'. From then on, every time we performed that song David would stick his arse out towards us and make like he was trying to squeeze one out, which would make us both laugh and fluff the line even worse."
Bmn - Hisuan, Argentina
Talking about stuttering hits, don't forget "My Generation" by the Who.Arik - Brussels
This is one of a number of stuttering hits, along with Elton John's "Bennie And The Jets", Bachman-Turner Overdrive's "You Ain't Seen Nothing Yet" (actually written as a throwaway for Randy Bachman's stuttering brother); The Knack's "My Sharona" and Guns 'N' Roses' "Welcome To The Jungle".Kent - Toronto, Canada
is this the song from the shrek soundtrack?
when did lindsay lohan sing it?
Lexie - Haifa, Israel
Did anyone notice that the verse,
"And these children that you spit on as they try to change there world, are immune to your consultations, they're quite aware of what they're going through." Is used at the begining of the Breakfast Club?
Joe - Bethlahem, Pa
Why would the Hunky Dory booklet say that the lyric is "turn and face the strain" if it was "turn and face the strange"?Azza - Melbourne, Australia
No, Katie. I'm pretty sure she said the line correctly "Turn and face the strange." The rendition still wasn't that good, but to clarify, the line was correct.Alex - Las Vegas , Nv
In Angie's book, Backstage Pass, she points out that friends sleeping together was no big deal in England and that it didn't necessarily reflect a sexual encounter. It might have easily just meant that they came home together bushed and drunk from a night out and it was the simplest thing to do. She also claims she didn't realize that mentioning it on the show would cause such a stir, which may or may not be true, but you should at least know what she's says about this before passing judgment. (She also adds in the book that knowing the "tomcat" nature of the two she wouldn't be at all surprised if they coudn't resist messing around with each other once in bed together, but still, she wasn't saying that that's necessarily what happened.)Fyodor - Denver, Co
hey, did John Lennon sing "Turn and face the stranger" part?

Maybe I'm just crazy, but I know they were good friends and it sounds kind of like him.
Joey - Nowhere Land, Ca
I hate Lindsey Lohan! What makes her think she can sing?Johnny - Los Angeles, Ca
Lindsay Lohan totally butchered this at the end of Confessions Of A Teenage Drama Queen. Plus I think she changed the lyrics to "turn and face the stage."Katie - Somewhere, Nj
David Bowie and Mick Jagger? Never heard that one. I guess that wouldn't be the weirdiest thing for either one though.Nathan - Defiance, Oh
I thought the lyric was "turn the bass strings" for a long time O_oAshley Jade - Cleveland, Ga
This is from the excellent Hunky Dory album, which I still reckon is Bowie's best collection of songs.Mark - Hereford, England
The lyric is "turn and face the strange". Bowie himself has commented on this.Sam - North Vancouver, Canada
David was punched in the eye by his school friend George Underwood after a fight over a girl. His pupil is left permanently dialated, thus causing him to look like he has two different coloured eyes. He sometimes suffers with it in the bright lights as it cant dialate to shut out excess light.

I personally think it looks cool.
Sarah - Manchester, England
are the lyrics "Turn and face the strain"
"Turn and face the strange"
or "Turn and face the stranger"?

Everywhere I look, it is different.
Ed - Chicago, Il
WHOA! THAT'S WEIRD BED WITH MICK JAGGER? I love this son especially that stutter and the lyrics and that i didn't know that he played the sax in the end he's great at that!Jude - Los Angeles, Ca
the line "these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds" is at the start of the Breakfast club. Which is the best movie ever
Austin - Charlotte, Nc
this was in shrek 2, wasnt it?Carrie - Somewhere, Wa
"And these children that you spit on as they try to change their worlds" one of my fav linesBrett - Watertown, Sd
freakin love this song...the stutter is awesomeShana - Pembroke, Canada
Yea, after Bowie dumped her, she went on Joan Rivers talkshow and made that statment. Sour grapes, no doubt, but even worse is the fact that Joan Rivers had a talk show.Tom - Alma, Ga
Bowie's wife caught him in bed with mick jagger!Janelle - New York City, Ny
Somehow I miss the parody of a dance song aspect. Maybe an explanation would help.
I see a deep commentary on social conflict between generations with Bowie himself, unsure of what the future will hold. All that without even alluding to his sexual orientation confusion. (His wife Angie catching him and Mick Jagger in bed and all)
James - Ragin' Rochester, Ny
London's rock community was very close in those days. Several stars would sit in on recording sessions with each other and add backup vocals. Unfortunately due to contracts, credits were often left off of liner notes to prevent legal hassles.
Bowie,McCartney,David Essex,Rod Stewart, and Donovan (leach) would lend talent to each others albums on a regular basis.
"quite rightly" whispered on THEY CALL ME MELLOW YELLOW by Donovan
"horn riffs" on ROCK ON by Essex
"group vocals" on ICHIKOO PARK by Small Faces
James - Ragin' Rochester, Ny
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