Writer(s): David Bowie (see lyrics here)
Released: January 7, 1972
First Charted: April 8, 1972
Peak: 41 US, 38 CB, 37 GR, 28 HR, 30 RR, 49 UK, 32 CN, 80 AU, 1 DF (Click for codes to charts.)
Sales (in millions): --
Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, 34.5 video, 111.3 streaming
Click on award for more details.
About the Song:
“Changes” was released to promote David Bowie’s Hunky Dory album, but didn’t exactly take the charts by storm, stalling at 66 on the Billboard Hot 100. A 1975 rerelease didn’t fare much better with the song peaking just outside the top 40. In his native UK, the song didn’t chart until after Bowie’s death.
Bowie hadn’t expected much of the song; he wrote it as a throwaway parody of a nightclub song. However, audiences kept chanting for it at concerts, drawn in by lines 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.” SF
Rock songwriters typically were “at pains to place themselves in some tradition or ar another, whether it was blues or folk music or Modernist poetry. With ‘Changes,’ Bowie announced that his artistic personality was in flux; its future shape would be mercurial and respect no rules.” TC Rock’s chameleon “had barely begun to show the world his wardrobe of disguises.” RS500 Fans took to it “as the theme song for the man who’d already given them Hippie Bowie, Mod Bowie and Bluesy Bowie.” RS500 The song became one of his best-known, often viewed “as a manifesto for his chamelonic personality” WK and “penchant for artistic reinvention.” SF
Bowie was facing some pretty big changes when he wrote the song. His wife, Angela, was pregnant with their first child and Bowie, who’d had a good relationship with his own dad, was excited about impending fatherhood. SF
He also embraced change in his approach to songwriting; he started using keyboards in his writing, which made for new melody and structure possibilities. SF Meanwhile, guitarist Mick Ronson arranged the strings and Bowie decided to play saxophone on the track. SF Rick Wakeman, later of Yes, played piano on the track. SF
In 2004, Australian singer/songwriter Butterfly Boucher covered the song for the Shrek 2 movie. Bowie appears as a guest vocalist on the track.
First posted 1/4/2020; last updated 12/26/2022.