Recently, things changed. Try to read that without laughing. Then without crying. Then without shrugging. Change is happening all the time, everywhere, all at once. In that, these recent changes were like any other, at once unpredictable and predictable. But one of them in particular sunk in, in strange ways, and, once sunk, resurfaced. It isn't a change in my life, exactly, as much as a change near my life. I don't want to be unnecessarily cryptic but clarification is unnecessary. Is it enough to say that someone close to me passed through a major decision. That makes it sound far more ominous than it is. It could have been as simple as deciding not to be a vegetarian any longer or deciding to have a child. It wasn't either of those. It could have been as simple as deciding to move in with a girlfriend. It wasn't that either. It could have been as simple as deciding to give up a cat. We could go on like this for hours, but won't.
This decision also has affected me, very secondarily, compared to the effect on the primary parties, the effect on me is so trivial that it's almost wrong to mention it. As a result, I won't. I will, however, post a series of songs about change. To prove that change is an ancient theme, I have picked songs that sound like they were carved from the earth, from Blind Willie McTell's Scriptural blues "Don't You See How This World Made a Change" (which is only eighty years old, but sounds eight thousand, at least) to Big Mama Thornton's "The Big Change" (old-fashioned, and addressed straight at the heart of an age-old dilemma: do you trade in/change your lover before you're changed/traded in?) to Johnny Cash's cover of Bob Wills' "Time Changes Everything" (Tommy Duncan, the singer and songwriter responsible, was born on January 11, 1911, a date so full of one's that it feels like it might be located at or near the beginning of time, which evidently changes everything). Rounding out the post if Barb Jungr's cover of Bob Dylan's towering "Things Have Changed." Jungr's performance, which comes from the generally excellent Every Grain of Sand album, is deeply flawed. It's played like a "Threepenny Opera" outtake; Jungr is more youthful than Dylan and doesn't reverse the gender of the narrator, which undermines both the song's weariness and its sexiness; and there's a chorus chant added into the song that is more distracting than affirming. Still, for all these changes, the song remains the same, especially lyrically, and amidst the clutter and the questionable choices there are lines that stand out searingly:
Some things are too hot to touch
The human mind can only stand so much
You can't win with a losing hand
I was going to end there, but at the last minute I tacked on Tom Waits's "Lord I've Been Changed," which is all about conversion, and how altering your religious identity can bring you closer to your true self. I think the friend I'm talking about used to like Tom Waits but as some point changed his or her mind.