Change is an inevitability, and that often leaves us with mixed emotions. So in this article, I’m going to provide you with what I believe are some of the best songs about change. Hopefully, each track will bring you some joy and comfort, especially if you’re currently going through a tough change or transition.
Songs About Change You’ll Really Like
Let’s begin with a David Bowie song.
Changes by David Bowie
If you tell me you didn’t just sing the chorus in your head, well, I don’t believe you.
“Changes” features one of the most iconic stutters in rock n’ roll history leading into an infectiously catchy chorus. Although Bowie regularly relied on his guitar, the melody for “Changes” was played on a grand piano to add more depth to his serious and emotional message.
Bowie was unsure at the time if he could ever overcome his poor critical reception but felt a constant need to reinvent himself both musically and artistically. This song is a call to action, urging listeners to embrace change even in the face of criticism.
In the second verse, Bowie decries parents that discourage their children from growing up, adopting radical ideologies, and seeking to influence change. Bowie promotes that children remain true to themselves above all else, and that children and parents alike stay open-minded and embrace change.
“Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it. Turn and face the strange.”
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Changes by 2Pac
Songs like “Changes” illustrate that 2Pac’s influence was earned well beyond his excellent lyrical delivery and production. The song speaks to the experience of the urban African American community and lyrically touches on many major problems that were prevalent at the time.
Unfortunately, some of these sad truths remain topical today.
2Pac incorporates the piano melody and chorus from Bruce Hornsby’s classic “The Way It Is” to set the tone. At first, 2Pac wonders if life is even worth living considering all the ugly, unfair, and difficult circumstances around him. Despite the bad, 2Pac ultimately preaches that life is worth it and urges us to show compassion to one another and inspire positive change.
RIP 2Pac. Some things have not changed, but we did see a black president.
Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson
In this classic tune, the King of Pop is walking (or moonwalking—sorry, couldn’t resist) on a cold winter day when he encounters homeless, starving children in desperate need of help. Unable to idly pass by, MJ vows to do something for them and change his world for the better. On this track, Michael Jackson is “starting with the man in the mirror.”
We’ve all had our moments where we’ve been bothered by something in our lives or in the world, and we wish that someone would do something about it to make things better. “Man in the Mirror” reminds us that great change comes from small beginnings, and choosing first to make a change in ourselves is the only way to inspire change in the world around us.
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Stronger by Britney Spears
Riding high off the enormous success of her debut album, Britney Spears continued dropping hit after hit in the late 90’s and 2000’s. “Stronger” hailed from her second album and topped charts globally when it first debuted.
What works especially well with the song is her use of lyrical callbacks to create an overarching theme in her music. In “Hit Me Baby One More Time,” Britney sings that her “loneliness is killing” her, and she needs her former lover to come back to her.
Unlike “Hit Me” Britney, who needs a man to come back and validate her, “Stronger” Britney is confident, independent, and unstoppable. She’s “stronger than yesterday” and her “loneliness ain’t killing [her] no more.” The Princess of Pop illustrates that she has learned from her experiences and changed to become an absolute force to be reckoned with.
Changes by Black Sabbath
No one expected Black Sabbath to create such a soulful, sad serenade on 1972’s Vol. 4. The world already was accustomed to roaring guitar riffs like on “Iron Man” and massive drum fills like in “Sweet Leaf,” so it was a complete shock when the hard-rocking quartet shared this piano-driven ballad about a married couple splitting up.
Though the somber instrumentation lends itself to such a song, Ozzy’s voice is really what carries the emotional gravitas. The lyrics don’t provide much context on how or why things didn’t work out, but we understand it’s not a welcome change and the speaker is left coping with the loss after losing their best friend and lover.
Landslide by Fleetwood Mac
Most classic rock enthusiasts laud Rumours as Fleetwood Mac’s crowning achievement, as it was released in 1977 to massive critical and commercial success. Two years before that breakout, however, is where we encounter “Landslide,” a soft acoustic song about Stevie Nicks’ fears regarding chasing her dreams and the fragility of it all.
Life is filled with “what ifs” and uncertainty. “Landslide” encapsulates that feeling that it all can come crashing down at any moment. And yet, despite our fear of change, we must be bold and accept what comes next as we grow older and bolder.
Change (In the House of Flies) by Deftones
In 2000 while nu-metal was at its peak, the Deftones released White Pony, which contained their biggest single to date “Change (In the House of Flies).” This song is essentially the musical equivalent of taking a long drag from a cigarette during a midnight drive on an unfamiliar stretch of highway.
It’s dark. It’s slightly uncomfortable. It’s oddly cathartic.
The lyrical content is highly metaphorical and mildly disturbing. The singer equates their lover to a fly that he thoughtlessly brought home to dismember by removing its wings, thus symbolically stealing its gift of flight.
While change can often be for the better, this song presents it in a circumstance where the change was not good for anyone, and ultimately results in irreparable damage.
A Change Would Do You Good by Sheryl Crow
You could not turn on a radio in the 90’s without hearing Sheryl Crow.
From the opening acoustic riff to the verse with its thumping bass drum driving the beat forward, “A Change Would Do You Good” is an excellent example of how poignant imagery and a simple but catchy chorus build the bones of a song into a certified single.
Crow paints a picture in each verse of a person in need of significant life changes. The first verse targets her former producer who abandoned the album halfway through recording, whereas the second verse is loosely based on Madonna. In the third and final verse, Crow turns the camera on herself and describes changes she could incorporate in her own life.
Identifying problem areas in your life is essential to growth. Who knows? Maybe a change would do you good too!
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Change Your Mind by The Killers
The Killers hit the scene in 2004 with critically acclaimed Hot Fuss, featuring singles such as “Somebody Told Me” and “All These Things That I’ve Done.” People appreciate the emo, post-punk aesthetic fused with new wave elements for a sound that often did not conform to pop or rock stereotypes.
“Change Your Mind” never enjoyed the same success or exposure as the album’s singles, but it’s an amazing song nonetheless. It’s sung from the perspective of a hopeful lover who just was reluctantly informed by his partner that their love cannot be. We don’t get the impression that it’s a hard no, and our speaker is feeling there’s still a chance. He wonders what he must do to change their mind.
A combination of Brandon Flowers’ soulful singing, twangy guitar, bumping bass, and soothing synth keyboards creates a complete combination of pure musical magic. Instrumentally and musically, this song is among one of the best The Killers have ever recorded.
Closing Time by Semisonic
“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
At a glance, this classic tune by Semisonic is about last call at the bar, and the bartenders urge the patrons to finish their drinks and hit the road. Singer Dan Wilson intended for it to be played at every bar for every last call, but it wasn’t until the birth of his daughter that he realized how much her coming into the world had influenced his language.
Wilson found a double meaning in “I know who I want to take me home,” and realized the song was about more than just the last call. “Closing Time” became an anthem celebrating welcome change.
Change is an inescapable part of life. Some change is welcome and needed, while other changes are unexpected and unwelcome. Regardless, we as humans will always encounter changes in our lives, many of which we will have no control over. What’s important is how we respond to these changes and how we change ourselves in order to cope.
Hopefully you’ve enjoyed these selected songs about change. I encourage you to listen to one or two regularly if you need a dose of inspiration, a spark of joy, or perhaps an intense kick of motivation.
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