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The Story Behind the Song: How Kevin Parker created Tame Impala track 'Yes I'm Changing'

In 2013, Kevin Parker was alone. Seclusion was never a foreign feeling to the Australian singer and multi-instrumentalist: he’s a naturally introverted figure who works best free from the commitments of collaboration or the pressure of personal connection. He even made an entire album, Lonerism, based around the themes of separation and isolation. Of all the dense layers of instrumentation and sounds, Lonerism featured only two other musical performers and a number of production individuals that you could count on a single hand. Even these relatively sparse proceedings would be too much.

In the spirit of Parker’s own newly found isolation, Currents is a solo album in the truest sense: completely written and recorded, mixed and produced, conceptualised and realised by himself, holed away in a house where his creative impulses would be undisturbed. The recent breakup of a romantic relationship also informed the recording, as the lyrics Parker began to write took on a more personal and mature worldview.

‘Yes I’m Changing’ is the most straightforward that Parker had allowed himself to be up to that point. Utilising a stream of conscious approach that favoured emotional honesty, Parker frames the end of a relationship with the sort of tact and understanding that very rarely filters into pop music. Parker wound up describing the song after the fact as “a weird experience, because it was like it was someone else made the song. I had no memory of imagining it”.

To inspire a full-length song, often relationships have to combust in spectacular and sometimes traumatic ways in order to inform enough emotion to require release. ‘Yes I’m Changing’ actually does the opposite: it plays into the grey areas of calm rationality, not placing blame on one particular party and leaving the door open for the future: “Yes, I’m changing, yes, I’m gone/Yes, I’m older, yes, I’m moving on/And if you don’t think it’s a crime, you can come along with me.”

There’s a hazy centre to the instrumentation that propels the song: the lifting synths that keep the song from becoming too weighty or turgid. Parker’s predilections towards psychedelics or swimming during recording breaks often play an important role in the feeling of the tracks he creates. ‘Yes I’m Changing’ creates a lyrical and musical state of uncertainty and transition, but there’s an underlying feeling of contentment and acceptance that keeps the song buoyant.

Centred around different suspensions of the C chord, ‘Yes I’m Changing’ harmonically drifts without ever finding solid ground to stand on. Somewhat unusual for a mainstream song, there’s no V chord in ‘Yes I’m Changing’, probably because its inclusion would prove too definitive within the narrative. With an open and simple chord progression, Parker makes sure that the track never fully resolves itself and instead floats and fades to reflect the uncertainty of what might lie ahead.

In the end, Parker extends his purview beyond his own future: the end of a relationship is a new start for both individuals. “There is a world out there, it’s calling my name/And it’s calling yours, girl, it’s calling yours too.” There’s no anger or vitriol or contempt or even discourse within ‘Yes I’m Changing’. It’s simply two people who have drifted apart and need to move forward. “They say that people never change but that’s bullshit/They do.”

Parker would find a resolution eventually. He’s currently married and has a child, achieving the domestic bliss that Currents openly wonders is realistic or even possible. He kept his working habits the same, though. 2020’s The Slow Rush once again found Parker in sole control of production and performance. The specifics of when and where Kevin Parker allows himself to be alone is an ever-shifting proposition, but if nothing else, Parker has finally and definitively allowed himself to be comfortable with change.