David Bowie: “Changes” (1971)

Rolling Stone ranked this as Bowie’s second-greatest song, behind “Heroes.”

Kronomyth 4.1: Oh, god.

Changes eventually displaced “Space Oddity” as David Bowie’s signature song. It wasn’t the sensation that the futuristic “Space Oddity” was, sounding instead like a throwback to the days of music hall. But there was something in its oddly contained chaos that made you want to jump out of your own skin. Bowie, of course, would shed his own skin regularly over the next few decades, and “Changes” would become both anthem and overarching philosophy for the artist.

In time, “Changes” also became an anthem for a younger generation that was both undergoing change and undertaking change. I suppose it has since been appropriated by the transgender community, which bothers me a little but not as much as it being used by Fidelity Investments for their 2004 ad campaign. Bowie would also revisit the opening music for “TVC 15.”

The B side is Andy Warhol (hole not hull) from the same album, Hunky Dory. I’ve never cared for the creepy opening (which they cut off for the US single), but the chorus is a hoot. Of minor interest, the single credits the time for “Changes” as 2:32. It’s probably a typo, as 3:32 would be closer to the mark. “Changes” is one of several Bowie singles to chart multiple times, almost cracking the US Top 40 in 1974.

Original 7-inch single version

A1. Changes (David Bowie) (2:32*)
B1. Andy Warhol (David Bowie) (3:03)

*Incorrect track time.

The Plastic

Released on 7-inch single in December 1971 in the US (RCA Victor, 74-0605) and on January 14, 1972 in the UK (RCA Victor, RCA 2160) and Japan (RCA, SS-2184) with regional picture sleeve. Reached #66 on the US charts (charted on April 15, 1972 for 7 weeks). Named #127 on Rolling Stone’s Top 500 songs.

  1. Re-pressed on 7-inch single in 1974 in the US (RCA Victor, 74-0605 [gray label]. Re-charted to #41 on the US charts (charted on December 7, 1974 for 11 weeks).
  2. Re-issued on 7-inch single in November 1975 in the US (RCA Gold Standard, GB-10468).

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