The single peaked at No. 5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 4 on the Cash Box Top 100 charts in the summer of 1996. It also spent 13 weeks at No. 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. "Change the World" is ranked as the 19th biggest hit of 1996.
Although "Change the World" is best known by Eric Clapton's unplugged acoustic version, a non-unplugged electric performance of the song was featured on Babyface's 1997 live album, Babyface MTV Unplugged NYC, with Clapton on co-lead vocals and electric guitar (Babyface served as the song's producer).
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 artist, Wynonna Judd, for her February 1996 album entitled Revelations. Judd, however, did not release her version as a single despite the popularity of Clapton's release.