June 7, 2021

Against the World: Don't Ever Change

The first time I heard "Don't Ever Change" wasn't earlier this week on RollingStone.com or at midnight on Spotify, it was at a concert in Denver in 2019. The show opened with "Finally It's Christmas," "Don't Ever Change," "Rock 'n' Roll Razorblade," and "Lost Without Each Other." Four songs in, I turned to my friend and asked her "What kind of Benjamin Button setlist is this?!" Hanson had chosen to start the set with the type of adrenaline-inducing songs I had come to expect at the end of a show rather than the beginning, and there was no question that newbie "Don't Ever Change" belonged in that designated rock segment of the setlist.

Now that I have the official studio recording in hand and after a few (dozen?) video watches, I can honestly say for what feels like the first time in my history as a fan, I like the studio version better than when I heard it live. That's not to discredit basically every studio version of a Hanson song ever, but I mean it as a testament to just how much I normally love the feeling of a great rock song going straight to my ears from the stage without the filter of a computer or inferior car stereo. I LOVE this band live, and I love the rush of experiencing a killer rock song in person. To realize I liked this one better on my computer was a bit jarring and out of character. It's a very weird feeling to watch the music video, go "This rocks, I can't wait to hear it live!" then go oh wait, I already did. Four times.

My friend who attended the Wintry Mix tour with me even tried to tell me that she had never heard "Don't Ever Change" before. I had to show her video evidence on Youtube that we had, in fact, stood in a room with that song at least once. In our defense, it was really hard to make out the lyrics, none of the venues we went to had the best sound equipment, and it's challenging to fully appreciate any new song when it's accompanied by a cacophony of shouting and concert talkers. I've been to plenty of gigs with questionable sound quality where my brain effortlessly fills in the gaps for missing words or blundered guitar riffs-- mcuh in teh wya yuor brian cna sitll raed jmulbed wrods--but that's just not something you can do with a song you've never heard before. I hope I get to write another blog in a month or two and recall this moment and just how wrong I was after hearing it live again. 

As for a song analysis? I'm not sure I can give you the type I had in mind for this series of blogs. The lyrics (now that I've properly heard and read them) are straight-forward. If there's any hidden meaning in there, it's deep and my shovel is broken. "Don't Ever Change" is a song celebrating the qualities of a loved one who seems strong, independent, and unafraid to be themselves. It sounds like a vaguely British Tinted Windows song birthed in the early 80s, perhaps in one of the cars in Disney's Rock 'n' Rollercoaster ride. I mean all of that as an overly-specific compliment.

The bridge is phenomenally addictive, easily the Queen-iest part, and I would love to hear an entire song in that style. It also has my favorite lyric: "You're my first day's thought and my last night's prayer." The first time I played it in my car, I caught myself raving in my head thinking "I am LIVING for this bridge!" Then I did some kind of unintentional word association and suddenly found myself making troll puns (see notes below). Welcome to my stream of consciousness; at least there were no raisins this time.

I intended to share my hand-written notes on this one too, but I started doodling on it, and if you think you've had secondhand embarrassment from my dancing skills, just wait until you see the blob that is me drawing a candle. Thank God for free graphic design programs and that I write better than I draw...most of the time.

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