This list of songs is inspired by a list published by radio station, KEXP, from Seattle in 2010. For the most part, I will faithfully countdown from their list, from Song #500 to Song #1. So, when you see the song title listed as something like: “KEXP: Song #XXX”….it means that I am working off of the official KEXP list. If I post the song title as being: “KTOM: Song #xxx”….it means I have gone rogue and am inserting a song choice from my own personal list of tunes I really like. In either case, you are going to get to hear a great song and learn the story behind it. Finally, I am not a music critic nor a musician. I am a music fan and an armchair storyteller. Enough said! Let’s get on to today’s song.
KEXP: The Top 500 Songs in Modern Music History.
Song #289: Changes by David Bowie.
If there was one constant in David Bowie’s career, it was change. Known as a musical chameleon, Bowie made a career out of costume and character changes; everything from the Ziggy Stardust persona of his early days, to the high fashion, yellow suits of his later days and, seemingly, a thousand and one other incarnations, as well, along the way. The one constant, among all of the changes, was Bowie’s strong desire to remain fresh and original and vibrant. He often worried about repeating himself and becoming an echo, instead of actually being a creative force. His inner turmoil shows in a song like “Changes”.
“Changes” came from Bowie’s fourth album, “Hunky Dory”. It followed songs such as “Space Oddity” and “The Man Who Sold the World”. At the time, David Bowie was not the star that we know him to be today. Back then, he was just trying to establish his career and, in doing so, find his voice as a performer. When you listen to the lyrics of “Changes”, you can easily see the uncertainty that plagued him.
“Still don’t know what I was waiting for,
And my time was running wild
A million dead end streets and
Every time I thought I’d made it,
It seemed the taste was not so sweet.
So I turned myself to face me
But, I’ve never caught a glimpse
How others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test”.
But, also, the declaration of his desire to be someone special and to leave a lasting legacy behind.”
Oh, lookout, you rock n’ rollers!”
Overall, David Bowie needn’t have worried about his legacy. But, at the time when you are young and have more ambitions than qualifications, it may seem natural to worry. But, with “Changes”, he laid down a manifesto, of sorts, by declaring that constantly reinventing himself was going to be one of the ways he intended to proceed with his career and remain vital. There is nothing easier than discovering a formula for success and simply repeating it, over and over, again. I give Bowie a lot of credit for reaching beyond the low-hanging fruit available to him and desiring to scale the heights of creativity on his own terms, in his own manner and at his own pace. There are lessons for all of us in this song, which is why “Changes” rates as one of Bowie’s best songs of all-time and one of the more memorable songs in Rock n’ Roll History.
But, just to show you a comparison in the mold of “How it Started/How It’s Going”….I am going to post a video of Bowie singing “Changes” during the height of his fame but, also, a video of him opening the Glastonbury Festival in 1971, singing “Changes” at sunrise, with most people still sleeping in their tents. The journey from who he was when “Changes” was first released, to the international superstar he became over the course of his career, was a vast gulf, as it turned out. But, he did it and we are the better for his efforts.
Without further delay, here are two very different versions of “Changes” by David Bowie. Enjoy.
The link to the video for the song, “Changes” by David Bowie, can be found here.
The link to the video for the song, “Changes”, by David Bowie at the Glastonbury Music Festival in 1971, can be found here.
The link to the official website for David Bowie, can be found here.
The link to the wonderful KEXP radio website can be found here. Thanks, as always, for playing the very best artists, bands and music of our time.