Sunday, September 25, 2011

An Alternative Look at David Bowie's song, Changes

This post was going to be about David Bowie’s song, Changes. I love the song. It’s brilliant how the lyrics are just vague enough to be open to individual interpretation, of which there are many.

Some believe that the Changes lyrics focus on the obsessive nature of artistic reinvention, which Bowie mastered. More common interpretations include taking a hard look at the process of aging and how you’ll handle the changes that go along with it. Even deeper, the lyrics examine a young man's attempt to figure out how he'll react to moving from the ‘cool, hip’ side of the generation divide to the ‘old, outdated’ side.

My plan was to take an excerpt of the Bowie lyrics and wax academic about the primary text and sub texts, etc., etc., blah, blah, blah.  


…this is so much more fun. As I was researching the lyrics I noticed some word discrepancies—especially after the Ch-ch-ch-changes hook. I always thought the lyrics were:

> Turn and face the strain

It turns out, I may not be correct. Here are some of the alternative suggestions:

> Turn and face the strange
As in - move out and face the unknown.

> Turn and face the change
Which is an obvious repeat of the hook

> Turn and chase the grain
Guessing that Bowie drinks whiskey with a beer chaser

> Turn and get my cane
The refrain Bowie will sing when he gets older

Other notable interpretations:
> Turn and take the train
> Turn and face the stain
> Churn your face in Spain
> Turn and face Loraine
> Time to eat chow mein

Okay, I’m easily amused but these are laugh out loud funny to me. Here, take a listen and tell me what you think the mystery lyrics in David Bowie’s song, Changes are.


This post was written for The Writers' Post group on Facebook, and this week’s topic is changes.  If you want to connect with other bloggers and join the fun, go to The Writers' Post Facebook page and request to join the group. Everyone is welcome.


  1. Been so long since I really listened to the song--although I did listen to it the other day-- I wasn't paying attention. Anyway--just listening to it just now--it sounds like "Time and face the strange, Ch-Ch-changes"

    I so love this song by Bowe!! Great post :) Jenn

  2. Haha Langley, You made me laugh out loud! Nice post!

  3. Too fun. I'll never listen to Changes quite the same way again.

  4. Fun post!! Not sure what the actual lyrics are on that one. Sure is open to interpretation. Love the song! Wish we could get a statement from David Bowie and find out just what he is saying! LOL


  5. Great post! Now I'm going to have to go listen to the song :-)

  6. LOL...very amusing. I cannot understand the words to most songs. I have an ear for the music and my weird brain kind of "sorts", then throws out the words. That is why I prefer instrumentals. I have been curious enough a few times to seek out lyrics to actually see what the words of the song are, but not so much... I'm too busy keeping beat in my head and enjoying the melodies...

  7. I think I had thought it was, "Turn and face the change." But listening to this and other recordings on youtube and using earphones (which makes the words more clear, I find) it sounds to me that it is saying, "Turn and face the strange."
    I find it's usually best to get a copy of a an actual album (cd, tape, record) that includes the lyrics to get a better idea of what a song actually says. However, I have seen sometimes what is in the lyrics on the physical album has been very clearly different then what was actually sung (like they decided to change the lyrics last minute in the recording studio but never bothered to change the lyrics submitted to the publisher).


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