Charles Bradley: Born 05.11.1948 in Gainesville, Florida; â€ 23.09.2017 in New York
Late soul great Charles Bradley can be heard performing Black Sabbathâ€™s â€śChangesâ€ť in the most unlikely of places â€“ â€“ an animated adult cartoon. The new series, â€śBig Mouth,â€ť uses Bradleyâ€™s version of â€śChanges.â€ť The significance is found in the songâ€™s transition from one genre to another.
â€śBig Mouthâ€ť and its theme song
At the end of Sept. 2017, Netflix began airing an adult-oriented cartoon about adolescents navigating the choppy waters of puberty. At the beginning of each show, there is a close-up, animated view of various reproductive organs. As the parts undergo their various processes, a horn blast of soul music begins to play, and a male vocalist sings the words, â€śIâ€™m going through changes.â€ť The voice is an emotive baritone reminiscent of the likes of Otis Redding and Percy Sledge.
So for fans of certain kinds of humor, what is funny on the surface is that the show is about kids in a New York City suburbâ€“the changes they are experiencing are not the same as the ones being sung about. Also, the play on the word â€śchangesâ€ť and essentially hearing it in two contexts at once, can strike some viewers as humorous.
But for viewers familiar with the catalog of Black Sabbath, â€śChangesâ€ť sounds like something they have heard before.
Life cycle of â€śChangesâ€ť
The version of â€śChangesâ€ť that Bradley sings was originally written by Black Sabbath and recorded for the bandâ€™s 1972 album, â€śVol. 4.â€ť The song is categorized as â€śsoft rock,â€ť but Black Sabbath typically isnâ€™t. The original is a piano-based tuneâ€“ that allows Ozzy Osbourneâ€™s vocals to sear through it. So even if â€śChangesâ€ť as sung by Bradley isnâ€™t metal, it does still move from one genre to another.
If Bradleyâ€™s sound has all the makings of a classic Motown-era hit, there is a reason for that. His career began in the mid-1960s, but was put on hold for a number of reasons. He resumed his career in 2011. His debut album, â€śNo Time for Dreaming,â€ť was released that year. That was followed by â€śVictim of Loveâ€ť in 2013.
In the interim, Bradley was the subject of a 2012 documentary, â€śSoul of Americaâ€ť that premiered at SXSW. By 2016, he had released what would be his last album, â€śChanges.â€ť Unfortunately, Bradley died of stomach cancer six days before â€śBig Mouthâ€ť was set to air. In at least one online obituary, he is referred to as â€śthe screaming eagle of soul,â€ť and the way Bradley delivers a song shows the name to be accurate.
Charles Bradley and Black Sabbath
What is intriguing about connections like this is that they prove that the cultural and racial divisions that the listening public, radio stations and maybe even the music industry, has attributed to music itself, donâ€™t exist. The heartache depicted in â€śChangesâ€ť is just as obvious in Black Sabbathâ€™s version as it is in Bradleyâ€™s. That the song has found new life in a racy cartoon makes a statement about the flexibility of music as a language.
â€śChangesâ€ť proves how much people have in common, and how music can bring people together, no matter how disparate their demographics.