Changes (David Bowie song)

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Single by David Bowie
from the album Hunky Dory
B-side"Andy Warhol"
Released7 January 1972
Format7" single
RecordedTrident Studios, London, summer 1971
LabelRCA Records
Songwriter(s)David Bowie
Producer(s)Ken Scott, David Bowie
David Bowie singles chronology
"Moonage Daydream"
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 on 7 January 1972, the day before Bowie's 25th birthday. Despite missing the top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100, "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 has been 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] Changes 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 piano 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 at number 66 on the Billboard charts in the U.S. and failing in Britain.[9] A second run at the charts occurred in late 1974, when it barely missed the US Top 40.

The song was a regular feature of Bowie's live performances on the Ziggy Stardust Tour in 1972–73, appearing again on the Diamond Dogs Tour in 1974 and the Isolar – 1976 Tour. 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 128 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[13] 66
US Cash Box Top 100[13] 59
Chart (1975) Peak
US Billboard Hot 100[13] 41
US Cash Box Top 100[13] 38
Canada RPM Top Singles[14] 32
Chart (2016) Peak
France (SNEP)[15] 84
UK Singles Chart 49
US Billboard Rock Songs 10

Live versions[edit]

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 12 January 2008.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  6. ^ Kreps, Daniel; Kreps, Daniel (29 November 2016). "Nirvana, Bowie, R.E.M. Songs Among Grammy Hall of Fame's 2017 Inductees". Rolling Stone.
  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 6 October 2016.
  13. ^ a b c d Whitburn, Joel (2015). The Comparison Book. Menonomee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-89820-213-7.
  14. ^ Library and Archives Canada: Top Singles, 15 February 1975, retrieved 10 April 2016
  15. ^ " – David Bowie – Changes" (in French). Les classement single. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  16. ^ It can be found at
  17. ^ Daw, Robbie (12 January 2016). "Bananarama's Unreleased 1993 Cover of David Bowie's "Changes" Has Leaked, and It's Guilty-Pleasure Gold". Idolator. SpinMedia.
  18. ^


External links[edit]