“Changes” – Black Sabbath’s greatest ballad from the fall of 1972….hope you’ve made it through them o.k.

Changes – Black Sabbath (1972) HQ Audio Remaster HD Video

“Changes” was released in the fall of 1972 on Black Sabbath’s fourth studio album, Vol. 4.

I’ve always loved this beautiful ballad and it reminds me of an old friend who used to frequently play it on her piano. We’ve all gone through so many changes through the years….but the music we loved remains a glorious constant.

Vol. 4 sees Black Sabbath beginning to experiment with the heavy sound they had become known for. In June 2013 Mojo declared, “If booze and dope had helped fuel Sabbath’s earlier albums, Vol. 4 is their cocaine…Despite their spiraling addictions, musically Vol. 4 is another ambitious outing. The band’s heavy side remains intact on the likes of ‘Tomorrow’s Dream’, ‘Cornucopia’ and the seismic ‘Supernaut’ (a firm favorite of Frank Zappa’s, featuring Bill Ward’s soul-inspired breakdown), but the guitar intro on ‘St. Vitus Dance’ possesses a jaunty, Led Zeppelin-flavored quality, while ‘Laguna Sunrise’ is an evocative neo-classical Iommi instrumental.” “Laguna Sunrise” is aptly titled; after being up all night and watching the sunrise at Laguna Beach, Iommi composed the song. In the studio, an orchestra was brought in to accompany Iommi’s guitar, although the orchestra refused to perform until their parts were properly written out. The same orchestra also performed on the track “Snowblind”.

Musically, the song “Snowblind” is perhaps the band’s most blatant ode to cocaine, their drug of choice during this period. Snowblind was also the album’s working title, but Vertigo Records executives were reluctant to release an album with such an obvious drug reference as its title. The album’s liner notes also thank “the great COKE-cola”, another blatant ode to the band’s cocaine use. In his autobiography Osbourne notes, “For me, Snowblind was one of Black Sabbath’s best-ever albums – although the record company wouldn’t let us keep the title, ‘cos in those days cocaine was a big deal, and they didn’t want the hassle of a controversy. We didn’t argue.”

Although most of the album’s songs are in the band’s trademark heavy style, others demonstrate a more sensitive approach which the band had never attempted before. Perhaps the best example of this experimentation can be heard in the song “Changes”. Written by Iommi with lyrics composed by Butler, it is entirely in the form of a piano ballad with mellotron. Iommi taught himself to play the piano after finding one in the ballroom of the Bel-Air mansion they were renting. It was on this piano that the song “Changes” was composed. “With ‘Changes’, Tony just sat down at the piano and came up with this beautiful riff,” Osbourne writes in his memoir, “I hummed a melody over the top, and Geezer wrote these heartbreaking lyrics about the break-up Bill was going through with his wife. I thought that was brilliant from the moment we recorded it.”

The track “FX” came about unexpectedly in the studio. After smoking hashish, the crucifix hanging from Iommi’s neck accidentally struck the strings of his guitar and the band took an interest in the odd sound produced. An echo effect was added and the rest of the band proceeded to hit the guitar with various objects to generate odd sound effects. Iommi calls the song “a total joke”. The album, Tony Iommi told Circus’s sister magazine Circus Raves, “was such a complete change – we felt we had jumped an album, really…We had tried to go too far.”

I feel unhappy
I feel so sad
I’ve lost the best friend
That I ever had

She was my woman
I loved her so
But it’s too late now
I’ve let her go

I’m going through changes

We shared the years
We shared each day
In love together
We found a way

But soon the world
Had its evil way
My heart was blinded
Love went astray

I’m going through changes

It took so long
To realize
And I can still hear
Her last goodbyes

Now all my days
Are filled with tears
Wish I could go back
And change these years

I’m going through changes

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