The single peaked at #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in the summer of 1996. It also spent 13 weeks at #1 on the adult contemporary chart and remained on that chart for over a year and a half (80 weeks), a feat which was extraordinarily rare at the time. Since then, however, certain songs have remained on the AC chart for extended periods of time, prompting the eventual creation of an Adult Contemporary recurrent chart for songs that have stayed on the chart for many weeks and fallen below a certain threshold.
Although "Change the World" is better known as an unplugged acoustic track, a rare electric performance of the song was featured on Babyface's 1997 live album Babyface MTV Unplugged NYC, with Clapton on co-lead vocals, playing his namesake signature Fender Stratocaster guitar. There was also another electric cover of this track, released the following year, with Nathan East on electric bass.
In the song, the performer expresses his desire to communicate his love to an unnamed woman. This love, he fears, will go unrequited without a drastic change in his life.
Previous to the release of Clapton's hit version, the song was recorded by country superstar Wynonna Judd for her album Revelations, released in February 1996. Wynonna, however, did not release her version as a single despite the popularity of Clapton's.