Decoding the Meaning Behind “Changes” – A Closer Look at David Bowie’s Lyrics

The song Changes by David Bowie has multiple meanings. Let’s explore interpretations together.

Meaning of the Lyrics in Details

Let’s start with my commentary piece by piece of the song.

I still don’t know what I was looking for
And my time was running wild
A million dead-end streets

(To me, this part screams of searching for something elusive, a purpose or a destination, and constantly hitting walls. It’s like life’s maze without an exit, you know?)

Every time I thought I’d got it made
It seemed the taste was not so sweet
So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test

(Here’s a moment of introspection, but also frustration. The speaker tries to understand themselves through others’ eyes, but there’s a sense of impostor syndrome, and maybe a fear of facing that reality.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don’t want to be a richer one

(Changes are constant, and ‘turn and face the stranger’ could be about confronting the new self that emerges with each change. Rejecting material wealth suggests a deeper quest for meaning over money.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Just gonna have to be a different one
Time may change me
But I can’t trace time

(Adapting to change is inevitable, but there’s an acceptance that you can’t control or map out how it happens. Time moves on, whether we’re ready for it or not.)

I watch the ripples change their size
But never leave the stream
Of warm impermanence
So the days float through my eyes
But still the days seem the same

(Life’s changes are like ripples in water, they happen, they’re noticeable, but they’re also part of a larger, unchanging current. Days blend together in a blur of sameness despite everything.)

And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Their immune to your consultations
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through

(This is a shoutout to the resilience of youth, facing criticism but pushing forward with their ideals and changes. They’re tuned into their journey, regardless of the naysayers.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Don’t tell them to grow up and out of it

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(It’s a plea to allow the young to experience their own metamorphosis without imposing the ‘grow up’ rhetoric on them. Let them face their own ‘stranger’ as they change.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Where’s your shame
You’ve left us up to our necks in it

(There’s a bit of an accusation here, pointing out that the older generations have left a mess for the younger ones. It’s a call for accountability.)

Time may change me
But you can’t trace time
Strange fascination, fascinating me
Changes are taking the pace I’m going through

(The speaker is caught up in the whirlwind of change, fascinated by it, yet acknowledging that it’s a personal journey that can’t be fully understood or followed by others.)

Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Oh, look out you rock ‘n rollers
Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes
(Turn and face the stranger)
Ch-ch-Changes
Pretty soon you’re gonna get a little older

(This is a heads-up to the rebels and the rockers that change is coming for them too. Age catches up with everyone, and we all face the music of transformation.)

Time may change me
But I can’t trace time
I said that time may change me
But I can’t trace time

(Ending with a reflective echo, the speaker accepts the inevitability of change but also the impossibility of understanding time’s full trajectory.)

Changes performing Changes

Meaning of the Song Changes by David Bowie

The song Changes by David Bowie has a key meaning that resonates with me on a personal level. It’s like peering into a mirror that reflects not just your face but your entire being, the essence of who you are and who you’re becoming. The lyrics speak to the core of transformation, the kind that’s both inevitable and often uncomfortable.

When Bowie sings, “I still don’t know what I was looking for,” I feel that uncertainty. It’s like standing at a crossroads, every path just another guess. Isn’t that the way life feels sometimes? You’re hustling, trying to make something of yourself, but for every step forward, there’s this nagging doubt nibbling at your heels. It’s a universal struggle, the search for purpose amidst a labyrinth of choices.

And then there’s that iconic chorus, “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes.” It’s not just a hook; it’s a mantra. Change is constant, it’s the stranger we all have to turn and face. I’ve felt that. The way your own reflection seems unfamiliar when life throws you a curveball. Bowie captured that feeling of evolution, the push and pull of growing up, of outgrowing your former self.

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But it’s not all heavy. There’s a playfulness in the way Bowie approaches the subject. It’s almost as if he’s dancing through the chaos of change. That line, “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time,” always gets me. It’s a reminder that we’re all in flux, but we can’t pin down the process, can’t map it out. We’re all subject to the whims of time, and that’s okay.

Take the verse about the children. They’re trying to change their worlds, yet they’re dismissed, misunderstood. I connect with that. It’s like Bowie’s saying, “Hey, I see you. I know the struggle.” It’s a nod to the youth, to their resilience and their drive to make a difference. It’s a powerful message, especially coming from someone who’s been through so many transformations himself.

And let’s not overlook the music itself. Those piano stabs, the saxophone that wails through the bridge—it’s all part of the storytelling. The sound captures the essence of change, the ups and downs, the rhythm of life’s unpredictable journey. Bowie was a master at weaving his message into every layer of his art.

So when I listen to “Changes,” I feel seen. It’s like Bowie threw a lifeline to all of us who are just trying to figure things out. The song doesn’t just speak to one generation; it’s timeless. It’s a reminder that, yeah, change can be scary, but it’s also beautiful. It’s what makes us grow, what makes life worth living. And that’s something to embrace, not fear.

As I reflect on the song, I can’t help but relate to the artist himself. Bowie was never one to stay put, always reinventing himself, and that’s inspiring. It’s a nudge to keep pushing my own boundaries, to stay true to myself while also allowing for the new, the strange, the unexpected. Embracing change, that’s what “Changes” is all about, and it’s a lesson I carry with me every day.

Music Video

Why I Wrote About David Bowie Today

So, you know what? I was chilling, just hanging out by myself, and I decided to spin some Bowie on the record player. Changes, one of his most famous tracks, came up. Man, let me tell you, there is just something so unreal about that song.

I was sitting there, feeling kinda beat down by the day. You know how it goes – sometimes you just feel like you’re spinning your wheels, right? That’s where I was.

And then… “Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes…” Bowie’s voice hit me like a freight train. It made me stop and think about the day I’d had. About the changes I’ve seen and experienced, not just today but in my life.

I mean, isn’t that the essence of it all? Aren’t we all just stumbling through change after change? I felt like Bowie, despite being gone from this world, was right there with me.

Bowie sings, “I watch the ripples change their size / But never leave the stream.” That line hit home today. Sometimes it feels like we’re stuck in a current – changes happening around us – but we’re not really going anywhere. Just watching those ripples change.

I don’t know… Maybe I’m rambling. But doesn’t that song make you feel something similar? Like it forces you to pause and think about the changes in your life?

For me, it’s an anthem of acceptance – of understanding that change is an inevitable part of life and it’s okay to feel a little lost in it sometimes. I guess today was one of those days for me.

So yeah… That’s what Changes by David Bowie means to me. A powerful reminder that we’re all just trying to navigate the constant ch-ch-changes in our lives.

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