Musing on Music: Everything Changes

Bret Belden

Is there one project that you haven’t even started, due on the same day as your huge exam in that other class and you’re super stressed out trying to figure out how to get it all done, on time, and get a good grade? Are you freaking out because your relationship is going down the drain, in a lull or because you’re feeling horribly lonely and single? Try not to fret about these things. Although they may seem enormous at the moment, every situation changes and in the end, as Shakespeare says, “All’s well that ends well.” Tracy Lawrence’s song “Time Marches On” is all about expecting the unexpected because the only thing that doesn’t change in life is the fact that “everything changes.”

The lyrics of this song discuss a family unit consisting of mother, father, sister, and brother who evolve over time, with each verse describing a different portion of their lives. The lifestyles described in each section for each family member also discuss the generational differences between different members of the household and cultural changes in the United States from the ‘50s to the late ‘70s, shown more specifically through the musical choices of the family during each time period, mentioning Hank Williams and then Bob Dylan and reverting back to an “old Hank Williams song” in the final verse.

The chorus itself discusses changes in the planet and universe to express the idea that not only the characteristics of individual people change, such as during the verses, but also that change is the one constant in the grand scheme of things. Individuals in the family change during the song, but so does the family dynamic as a whole. For instance, in the second verse the father is separated from the family through his affair and in the final verse he has died. It’s not a tragic song about a sad family, nor does it mourn the loss of an older time. It mainly states in a matter-of-fact way that the only thing we can truly expect in life is change. Honestly, this is a good policy to keep in mind because it reminds us to focus on what is most important in life rather than the trivial. It’s also a way of saying that no matter what happens to you, you can move past it. Life goes on whether or not you want it to.

The music behind this song has an average pace and a steady drum or bass beat throughout, which represents the steady “march” of time. Just as the lyrics express, that steady beat in the back of the music does not change throughout the song. However, it does get quieter during the chorus despite the changes in vocal tone and keys or pitches by other instruments. In fact, the last thing you truly hear as the song fades out is that same steady beat.

Although good parts of your life should be celebrated and should not be taken for granted, the trivial arguments or relationships that we go through should not be dwelled upon, because they don’t matter in the “great circle of life” as Mufasa would put it. Or, if you prefer Timon’s policy, “you’ve got to put your past behind you” and finally, “Hakuna Matata”: It means no worries. So don’t stress out about what’s going on in every minute or second of your life, because in the end nothing is quite as grave as you think it is. Remember: Don’t make mountains out of molehills and look at the big picture because everything really is going to be alright.

Gabrielle Lamontagne is a junior majoring in business administration and marketing.

Twitter: @bookwormwillow