Change Your Mind

Album: Fortress (2000)
Charted: 59
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  • Chicken soup for the soul, saving grace, or maybe just a good kick to compel someone to get moving, this song has been instrumental in changing many, many lives. Written by Sister Hazel lead singer Ken Block at the time that he was dealing with overwhelming personal struggles, he says, "My thoughts are that it's not your life; it's all about perspective and how you choose to look at your life."

    "It's not always easy," he explains, "but it is just as simple sometimes as changing your mind. And it is so powerful how we attract things into our life. Two people can walk into the same room and see the same things, and they are so vastly different. Even in our own lives, we take ourselves everywhere we go, so when we come in with a bad attitude or a bad day, or views of life or whatever, we take all of that with us. And if we can manipulate that a little bit…"
    And by keeping the message simple, he hit a resounding chord with his listeners. "With this song, we got e-mails from quite literally tens of thousands of people. I really didn't know it was going to resonate like that. I knew that it meant something to me, and that I was trying to live that more, that it worked when I could do it. And I started getting these e-mails from people who said, 'Man, I heard that song, and a switch went off for me.' And someone would say, 'I lost 50 pounds. I started listening to that song on my headphones and walking every day.' Or somebody would say something as simple as 'I was just having a bad day,' and it's like, you know what? I can start my day over at any moment. I don't have to have a bad rest of the day because of a bad early day. Something that simple, to someone saying, 'Man, I got out of an abusive relationship that I've needed to do for years.' Or, 'I've always wanted to start this business, and I'm swinging the bat. I'm so much happier.' Or, 'I got clean and sober.' I mean, countless, endless things. And it was incredibly gratifying to me, seeing where all those ripples went, and still go, with that particular song to this day. It's turned into a pretty powerful and simple mantra for a lot of people. And that's pretty gratifying."
  • The loss of his brother, Jeffrey, to cancer caused Ken to question his own existence. It was a devastating time for the 20-year-old, and paired with the emerging success of the band and the alcohol and drug use that comes almost inherent in that atmosphere, he found himself in a wicked spiral. Says Block: "I lost my little brother to cancer after 4 1/2 years. And that was a painful battle right through our formative and adolescent years, where we were trying to find balance between going surfing and playing football and calling girls and playing music, and spinal taps and chemotherapy. And it was a really trying, awful time in a lot of ways. And I was extraordinarily close with my brother. And after he passed away, I had a ton of trouble sifting through that, issues of spiritual disconnect, and a lot of pain, and a lot of whys and a lot of things like that, trying to process that. And couple that with the band and the success and some of that, and drugs and alcohol and some of that fueling it."

    "And so I got into a pretty challenging cycle right there. And I try to write about a lot of that stuff. I come from a really incredible family of wonderfully warm, bright, funny, positive, creative people. And it was like we had this bomb kind of go off in our house. But I think it wasn't until I got sober that I kind of was able to process a lot of that stuff. I think when my wife got pregnant with my first son, who I just adore… I have three kids now, and they are absolutely… words are inaccurate to describe how connected to them I am. But I will say when my wife first got pregnant, I got hit with a ton of emotion about - probably not uncommon - but sort of a mortality thing. I wasn't able to protect my brother, how am I going to be able to protect this little guy? And I got hit with a ton of stuff."

    "So right around that time, I was writing a lot of those songs right there. I was searching - really, really searching for some relief and some answers and some acceptance, some sort of serenity. And I found quite a bit more of that, I think we all struggle with that. But still, when I write, I think about those things. I mean, I don't think you have to be right in the middle of things to write about them. I think we're all that same nervous little 13-year-old who had a crush and got their heart broken. We're still that person. That's just one layer of us. He's still in there. It's really easy for me to go back and remember having my heart broken at 13. I could easily go back there, I could still remember so much of that stuff very, very clearly. But I think between the loss of my brother and dealing with so many addictions issues with myself and within my family, and parenthood and that sort of thing, and then also dealing with going from a - this isn't a 'poor me' statement, this is just a kind of 'wow' statement - kind of going from traveling around in a van and trailer making music, to selling a couple of million records and bouncing all over the world and stuff. It's an interesting landscape to have to navigate. Certainly not complaining about that stuff, but it was a challenge to try to navigate through that, especially with some old wounds that I was still trying to figure out and deal with."
  • Each member of Sister Hazel has been affected by cancer in some way. Lyrics for Life, the brainchild of Ken Block, is how they are answering back. A non-profit organization, it is committed to finding a cure for cancer through research funded by money raised with concerts and sales of music. In Ken's words: "We've raised almost a million dollars for childhood cancer research and organizations that support the families and the kids. And that's been a way for me to kind of scratch that itch a little bit. And also kind of seeing my kids, although I really wish my kids had been able to know my brother. There's a connection that I have with them that's very, very deep. I lost my brother when he was 18, so my memories of him, we were kids, and things were still… it's really kind of cool to see him in my kids and have that kind of relationship, it's so powerful." (Read more in our interview with Ken Block. To learn more about Lyrics for Life, visit www.myspace.com/lyricsforlife.)
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