Changes (David Bowie song)

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Single by David Bowie
from the album Hunky Dory
B-side "Andy Warhol"
Released 7 January 1972
Format 7" single
Recorded Trident Studios, London, summer 1971
Genre Art pop,[1] glam rock
Length 3:33
Label RCA Records
Songwriter(s) David Bowie
Producer(s) Ken Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"Moonage Daydream"
"Moonage Daydream"
(Arnold Corns)
Hunky Dory track listing
"Oh! You Pretty Things"
Alternative cover
Music video
"Changes" (Live) on YouTube

"Changes" is a song by David Bowie, originally released on the album Hunky Dory in December 1971 and as a single in January 1972. Despite missing the Billboard top 40, "Changes" became one of Bowie's best-known songs. The lyrics are often seen as a manifesto for his chameleonic personality, the frequent change of the world today, and frequent reinventions of his musical style throughout the 1970s.[2] This single is cited as David Bowie's official North American debut, despite the fact that the song "The Man Who Sold the World" was released in North America two years prior.[3] This was the last song Bowie performed live on stage before his retirement from live performances at the end of 2006.[4]

The song ranked number 128 on the Rolling Stone list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time. It is one of four of Bowie's songs to be included in The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll.[5] On 27 November 2016, the Grammy Hall of Fame announced its induction, along with that of another 24 songs.[6]

It charted for the first time on the UK Singles Chart on 15 January 2016 at number 49 following Bowie's death.

Music and lyrics[edit]

Bowie has said that the track "started out as a parody of a nightclub song, a kind of throwaway".[7][8] The musical arrangement featured the composer's saxophone, Rick Wakeman's keyboards and Mick Ronson's strings, while the stuttering chorus has been compared to The Who.[9][10]

The lyrics focused on the compulsive nature of artistic reinvention ("Strange fascination, fascinating me / Changes are taking the pace I'm going through") and distancing oneself from the rock mainstream ("Look out, you rock 'n' rollers").[2] The song has also been interpreted as touting "Modern Kids as a New Race",[9] a theme echoed on the following album track, "Oh! You Pretty Things". Rolling Stone's contemporary review of Hunky Dory considered that "Changes" could be "construed as a young man's attempt to reckon how he'll react when it's his time to be on the maligned side of the generation schism".[11]

Release and aftermath[edit]

The composer having agreed to Peter Noone covering "Oh! You Pretty Things", which later commentators have argued was the obvious single from Hunky Dory,[9] "Changes" was chosen for a 45 release in January 1972. Like the album, it generated good reviews but negligible chart action, peaking just outside the US Top 40 and failing in Britain.[9]

The song was a regular feature of Bowie's live performances as Ziggy Stardust in 1972–73, appearing again on the Diamond Dogs tour in 1974 and the Station to Station tour in 1976. According to Bowie, "it turned into this monster that nobody would stop asking for at concerts: 'Dye-vid, Dye-vid – do Changes!' I had no idea it would become such a popular thing."[8] The song is ranked at number 127 on Rolling Stone magazine's 2004 list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time.

In 2016, the song was ranked at number 74 by internet radio station WDDF Radio in their first top 76 of the 1970s countdown.[12]

Track listing[edit]

  1. "Changes" (Bowie) – 3:33
  2. "Andy Warhol" (Bowie) – 3:58

Production credits[edit]


Chart (1972) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 66
US Cash Box Top 100 59
Chart (1975) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100 41
US Cash Box Top 100 38
Canadian Singles Chart 32[13]
Chart (2016) Peak
France (SNEP)[14] 84
UK Singles Chart 49
US Billboard Rock Songs 10

Live versions[edit]

  • Bowie played the song for the BBC's Johnny Walker Lunchtime Show on 22 May 1972. This was broadcast in early June 1972 and eventually released on Bowie at the Beeb in 2000.
  • A performance recorded at Santa Monica Civic Auditorium on 20 October 1972 was released on Santa Monica '72 and Live Santa Monica '72. This version also appeared on the Japanese release of RarestOneBowie.
  • A previously unreleased live version from Boston Music Hall on 1 October 1972 was released in 1989 on the original Sound + Vision box set, but was not included in subsequent versions of this compilation. The same track was issued, however, on the bonus disc of the Aladdin Sane – 30th Anniversary Edition in 2003.
  • A live performance recorded at the Hammersmith Odeon, London, on 3 July 1973 was released on Ziggy Stardust – The Motion Picture in 1983.
  • A live version from Bowie's 1974 tour was released on David Live; it was notable for Bowie singing the words "children that you shit on" as opposed to "spit on". This version was also released on the album Rock Concert (Netherlands 1979) and as a B-side of the Spanish version of the single "Knock on Wood". Another live recording from the 1974 tour was released on A Portrait in Flesh (Australia 1996).
  • A live performance recorded on 23 March 1976 was released on Live Nassau Coliseum '76, part of the 2010 reissues of Station to Station.
  • A November 2003 live performance from the A Reality Tour is included on the A Reality Tour DVD, released in 2004, as well as the A Reality Tour album, released in 2010.

Other releases[edit]

Bowie hit compilations rarely omit "Changes" despite its lack of chart success – indeed, the retrospectives Changesonebowie (1976), Changestwobowie (1981) and Changesbowie (1990) have taken their titles from the song.

Cover versions[edit]


  1. ^ Butler, Jim (14 June 2016). "Turn and Face the Change". Produce Business UK. 
  2. ^ a b Buckley, David (1999). Strange Fascination – David Bowie: The Definitive Story. p. 116. 
  3. ^ "Watch that Man" by Tina Clarke, Music Express magazine, March 1990, page 9
  4. ^ Gilmore, Mikal (2 February 2012), "How Ziggy Stardust Fell to Earth", Rolling Stone magazine (1149): 36–43, 68 
  5. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 17 March 2010. Retrieved 2008-01-12. 
  6. ^
  7. ^ Raggett, Ned. "Review of Changes". Allmusic. 
  8. ^ a b Loder, Kurt Loder; Bowie, David (1989). Sound + Vision: CD liner notes
  9. ^ a b c d Carr, Roy; Murray, Charles Shaar (1981). Bowie: An Illustrated Record. pp. 40–44. 
  10. ^ Blake, Mark (ed.) (2007). "Future Legend", MOJO 60 Years of Bowie: pp.74-75
  11. ^ Mendelsohn, John (6 January 1972). "Hunky Dory". Rolling Stone. 
  12. ^ "Best of the 70's & 80's". WDDF Radio. Retrieved 2016-10-06. 
  13. ^ Library and Archives Canada: Top Singles, 15 February 1975, retrieved 10 April 2016 
  14. ^ " – David Bowie – Changes" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  15. ^ It can be found at
  16. ^ Daw, Robbie (January 12, 2016). "Bananarama’s Unreleased 1993 Cover Of David Bowie’s "Changes" Has Leaked, And It’s Guilty-Pleasure Gold". SpinMedia. 
  17. ^


External links[edit]