A life-changing playlist
December 2, 2019 11:50 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for songs that explicitly reference changing one's life.

The two model songs for this are Swing Out Sister's "Notgonnachange" (which opens "I've made a decision / It's time to rearrange my life") and Ace of Base's "The Sign" (which opens "I've got a new life / You would hardly recognize me"). There's also a much, much more obscure (but wonderful) song, "Changed Life", by Tonikom. I'm looking for more, hopefully enough to form an entire CD-length playlist.

The song can be about anything, but the more explicitly they refer to "changing one's life" or making a "new life", the better. (Referring to it in the opening lines of the song would be especially great.) I realize there's probably a lot of explicitly religious songs with this theme, so I'd also like to say nothing in the realm of Christian Contemporary Music (but old hymns or gospel, especially Sacred Harp stuff, are cool).
posted by protondonor to Media & Arts (72 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
"Down by the Riverside"

In a sense, Leonard Cohen's "Sisters of Mercy".
posted by ubiquity at 11:54 AM on December 2

The Eagles Already Gone is my song for this.
posted by FencingGal at 12:02 PM on December 2 [3 favorites]

Hard to top There'll Be Some Changes Made. There are literally hundreds of versions of this tune to pick from. Hot Club of Cowtown have one of the more likable contemporary takes.
posted by quarterframer at 12:10 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

The The - This Is the Day

Has the lyrics you're asking for, but in the context of the song, it's more ironical about the prospects of the narrator changing their life.
posted by Beardman at 12:11 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]

Man in the Mirror by Michael Jackson
I wanna Get Better by the Bleachers
posted by bunderful at 12:12 PM on December 2 [5 favorites]

Moving to New York by the wombats
posted by speakeasy at 12:14 PM on December 2

Absolute Lithops Effect by The Mountain Goats
posted by slightlybewildered at 12:21 PM on December 2

You might get some mileage from this episode of All Songs Considered: "Songs About Change"
posted by juniperesque at 12:22 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

"I'm trying to get better because I haven't been my best...We can get better because we're not dead yet..." from Frank Turner's song, Get Better. Love the song; love the lyrics.
posted by hydra77 at 12:22 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]

The Cranberries: Dreams

Oh, my life
Is changing every day
In every possible way...

posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 12:36 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]

"Waiting for my Real Life to Begin" - Colin Hay
"Carry Me Away" - Concrete Blonde
"I Was Thinking I Could Clean Up for Christmas" - Aimee Mann
posted by jzb at 12:43 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

Murder of One by Counting Crows has this part:
You don't wanna waste your life, baby
You don't wanna waste your life, now, darling
You don't wanna waste your life, baby
You don't wanna waste your life, now, darling
You don't wanna waste your life, baby
I said you don't wanna waste your life, now, darling
You don't wanna waste your life, now, baby
You don't wanna, you don't wanna waste your life, now, darling

Change, change, change
Change, change, change
Change, change, change
I assume you only want positive songs about the possibility of change, but if by some chance you're also interested in the opposite of that, there's Conor Oberst's No One Changes.
posted by Redstart at 12:44 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Happy by Marina and the Diamonds (Lyrics)
posted by devrim at 12:44 PM on December 2

I got through my degree 15 minutes at a time by listening to Eminem's Lose Yourself: if you had one shot, one opportunity...
posted by b33j at 1:02 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

This is a profound theme running through old-school rap lyrics: Notorious B.I.G., Juicy; Dr Dre, Still D.R.E.; Eminem, Lose Yourself.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:11 PM on December 2

There'll Be Some Changes Made by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington & others.
posted by misteraitch at 1:22 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

2Pac - Changes ft. Talent
posted by katra at 1:25 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

Stand! - Sly and the Family Stone

In the end you'll still be you
One that's done all the things you set out to do
There's a cross for you to bear
Things to go through if you're going anywhere
posted by Homer42 at 1:28 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

Blackalicious - Making Progress
posted by box at 1:29 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Lizzo’s Good as Hell: “Boss up and change your life.”
posted by HotToddy at 1:32 PM on December 2 [4 favorites]

Feeling Good - Nina Simone
Move in the Right Direction - Gossip
posted by helloimjennsco at 1:38 PM on December 2

Depeche Mode's New Life should work nicely
posted by quatsch at 1:58 PM on December 2

Across the Universe, by The Beatles - of course the song claims that nothing is going to change his world, but we all know he's deluded.
posted by Jane the Brown at 2:03 PM on December 2

Some other answers a friend of mine provided:

Otis Redding - I'm a Changed Man
Jonathan Coulton - Artificial Heart
Ariana Grande - Break Free

And one more I thought of:
LCD Soundsystem - I Can Change
posted by protondonor at 2:15 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

Change in my Life by John Pagano from the movie Leap of Faith
posted by subsupra at 2:18 PM on December 2

Sunday Morning by No Doubt
posted by ferret branca at 2:20 PM on December 2

Christian but old-time ragtime gospel Christian: The Great Change in Me from the unequaled Rev. Gary Davis.

Things that I used to would love, I don't love them no more.

posted by bertran at 2:20 PM on December 2

I Am Changing from Dreamgirls. I’ve linked the Jennifer Hudson version but also Jennifer Holliday.
posted by subsupra at 2:21 PM on December 2

A Better Son/Daughter, by Rilo Kiley.
posted by peppercorn at 2:25 PM on December 2

Changes by Black Sabbath
posted by subsupra at 2:27 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

Already Gone by Firewater

Well I was on the border line
Of a suicidal state of mind
Because all the love we had was gone
But there was just one more courier flight
And it was leaving in the cold morning light
And that's the one you can be sure that I was on

And so I took a long last glance
Around this glorified garbage can
And then I burned all of my bridges goodbye
And now I'm staggering a jagged line
All around this glorious equator line
So don't come looking, because I'm already gone
posted by octothorp at 2:28 PM on December 2

If I had my way I would move to another lifetime
I'd quit my job, ride the train through the misty nighttime
I'd be ready when my feet touch ground, wherever I come down.
And if the folks will have me, then they'll have me
Any world that I'm welcome to is better than the one I come from..
Any World That I'm Welcome To, Steely Dan
posted by Nerd of the North at 2:41 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Two very different songs:

10/10--Rex Orange County
That classic 90s chestnut: Gangsta's Paradise--Coolio
posted by zeusianfog at 2:54 PM on December 2

The preeminent David Bowie: Changes
posted by i_mean_come_on_now at 2:58 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Seeing a couple of other people mention songs called Already Gone made me think of this Already Gone by Brett Dennen.
posted by Redstart at 3:21 PM on December 2

Little Mix's The Cure has the passive-but-close phrase "a life that's been changed" in the pre-chorus, and the right theme in general, so.
posted by Tess of the d'Urkelvilles at 3:31 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

"It Took Me So Long To Get Here" by KT Tunstall.

All my systems were failing
And it didn't seem fair, no it didn't seem fair
But it made way
For something different
I could feel it in the air, feel it in the air

"So Long to the Old Me" Dar Williams

My life is working better now
It's always changing anyhow

"Make a Change" Ruth Moody

It's hard to let go
Even when we both know
It's time
Time to make a change

posted by humbug at 3:34 PM on December 2

'Broken Wings' by Mr Mister, mid-80s power ballad, perhaps a bit cheesy to the cynics among us, but an inspiration to some dealing with recovery from addiction. (leans more metaphoric than explicit, but the metaphor is pretty direct.)
posted by ovvl at 3:34 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Another Mountain Goats suggestion, if you want a choice with a bit of menace in it and/or the suggestion that the day of reckoning is coming..
I'm gonna get myself in fighting trim
Scope out every angle of unfair advantage
I'm gonna bribe the officials; I'm gonna kill all the judges
It's gonna take you people years to recover from all of the damage

Our mother has been absent
Ever since we founded Rome
But there's gonna be a party when the wolf comes home

- Up the Wolves
If you want something less explicitly threatening and just about leaving a bad situation for a new start, try This Year from the same album.
posted by Nerd of the North at 4:55 PM on December 2 [5 favorites]

Ani Difranco - If Yr Not - "If you're not getting happier as you get older, then you're fucking up."

Gang Starr - Work - "I put in work, and watch my status escalate…"

Johnnie Frierson - Miracles - "If you believe and if you try, you can do anything. You can do even things that seem impossible. You can do miracles. Miracles. You can do em."

The Record Company - Life to Fix - "I've got this life to fix... Build it back up brick by brick." (Several other songs on that album might work.)

Ages and Ages - Divisionary (Do the Right Thing) - "Do the right thing, do it all the time. Make yourself right..."

Maybe also Bob Marley "Lively Up Yourself," Fleetwood Mac "You Can Go Your Own Way," and Journey "Don't Stop Believing."
posted by slidell at 5:02 PM on December 2

Boston, Long Time

The Golden Seals, Independence Day

Huey Lewis and the News, Hip to be Square

The Commodores, Easy

Tracy Chapman, Fast Car
posted by armeowda at 6:04 PM on December 2 [3 favorites]

Richard Marx “Ready to Fly”
posted by ChristineSings at 6:19 PM on December 2

Hazy Shade of Winter -- Bangles or Simon & Garfunkle, as you wish
posted by OrangeDisk at 6:41 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Electric Citizen - Light Years Beyond
"You can't leave me behind. I'm already light years beyond."

Queen Spread Your Wings
"Knew it was time
He'd made up his mind
To leave his dead life behind"
posted by melissa at 6:49 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

If you're open to sillier songs, Tom Waits' Step Right Up contains the lyric:
“Change your shorts, change your life,
Change your life,
Change into a nine-year old Hindu boy,
Get rid of your wife...”
posted by D.Billy at 8:17 PM on December 2 [1 favorite]

Your Life is Now - John Mellencamp
It's My Life - Bon Jovi
Breathe (2am) - Anna Nalick
posted by Ostara at 8:19 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Jimmy Eat World, "Praise Chorus" is my "step up and make shit happen" song.
posted by honeybee413 at 9:01 PM on December 2 [2 favorites]

Paul Kelly - To Her Door, about recovery from alcohol addiction.

I Will Survive.
posted by kjs4 at 10:51 PM on December 2 [3 favorites]

How about New York, New York?
posted by leibniz at 1:43 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]

A Change is Gonna Come — Sam Cooke (an absolutely lovely song)
posted by djinn dandy at 7:59 AM on December 3 [4 favorites]

John Prine singing Blaze Foley's Clay Pigeons
posted by niicholas at 9:32 AM on December 3 [1 favorite]

"I Found My Way," by Dusty Springfield! I think it's probably "really" about God, but I thought for years it was just a terrific love song.
posted by toomuchkatherine at 11:18 AM on December 3

Also David Bowie, "ch-ch-ch-ch-changes". . . (I think the song is called "Changes", natch).
posted by toomuchkatherine at 11:20 AM on December 3 [2 favorites]

This song is perfect for your play list: Brand New Start - Paul Weller.
posted by resurgem at 11:25 AM on December 3

Little Changes by Frank Turner
posted by BrashTech at 1:57 PM on December 3

Steely Dan, Deacon Blues

Drive-By Truckers, Perfect Timing
"I used to hate the fool in me, but only in the morning. Now I tolerate him all day long."
posted by wps98 at 4:01 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]

The Pretenders: Talk of the Town
“You’ve changed your place in this world”
posted by SLC Mom at 8:15 PM on December 3 [1 favorite]

Brad Paisley -- When I Get Where I'm Going
Collin Raye -- Little Rock
Creed -- With Arms Wide Open
Randy Travis -- Three Wooden Crosses
Rascal Flatts -- I'm Moving On
Reba McEntire -- Is There Life Out There
Rhiannon Giddens -- I'm On My Way
posted by TrishaU at 12:19 PM on December 4

Peter Gabriel - Solsbury Hill

I was feeling part of the scenery, I walked right out of the machinery
posted by andraste at 3:05 PM on December 4 [3 favorites]

Move on Up, Curtis Mayfield.
posted by j810c at 7:58 PM on December 5 [1 favorite]

Thank you all for the suggestions!

I've compiled some of my favorites into a playlist (although I haven't listened to everyone's suggestions yet!).

In case YouTube takes any of those down, or videos aren't available in your country or whatever:
The Cranberries - Dreams
The The - This is the Day
Ace of Base - The Sign
Curtis Mayfield - Move On Up
Swing Out Sister - Notgonnachange
Jonathan Coulton - Artificial Heart
Taj Mahal - Done Changed My Way of Living
The Mountain Goats - Up the Wolves
Sugar - Changes
Michael Jackson - Man in the Mirror
Steely Dan - Any World That I'm Welcome To
Bleachers - I Wanna Get Better
Ariana Grande - Break Free
Lizzo - Good As Hell
Rex Orange County - 10/10
Jimmy Eat World - Praise Chorus
Dan Deacon - Change Your Life (You Can Do It)
Blackalicious - Making Progress
Otis Redding - I'm a Changed Man
Sly and the Family Stone - Stand!
posted by protondonor at 8:46 PM on December 5 [5 favorites]

great playlist. thank you.
posted by philip-random at 11:21 PM on December 5

Percy Sledge - Walking in the Sun
posted by box at 9:57 AM on December 6

Sting, Brand New Day
posted by bunderful at 6:35 AM on December 8 [1 favorite]

« Older Books to beat the holiday blues   |   i spent a couple of decades playing nethack.... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments