ring out the changes of

frangs

Senior Member
Spanish Spain
I asked this in the Spanish/English forum but it mustn't be an easy one because the sentence is not fully clear for a native english speaker (At least from America).

My last doubt about Van Morrison song "Days like this".

"When no one steps on my dreams there'll be days like this
When people understand what I mean there'll be days like this
When you ring out the changes of how everything is
Well my mama told me there'll be days like this"

What does this mean?

According to Merriam Webster, ring (the) changes means: to run through the range of possible variations. Then would it be something like "to consider the details of everything"?

Thanks in advance.
 
  • Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I don't think there is an easy answer.

    A.
    The expression "ring the changes" comes from bell-ringing. It refers to sounding the bells in every possible sequence.

    Change ringing is the art of ringing a set of tuned bells in a series of mathematical patterns called "changes".
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_ringing

    B.
    All the verses talk about good things. Therefore we can assume "ringing out the changes" must be good in this context.

    C. Why would it be good to go through all the possibilities of your life? Maybe we should look for a different meaning. When there is a wedding, the church bells are rung as a sign of joy. Maybe this is a metaphor about joyful events.

    D. Perhaps the songwriter had run out of rhymes and just picked this because it sounded reasonably good.

    My guess is that the only person who knows the true answer is Van Morrison.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Perhaps you heard "ring out" when the singer meant "wring out."
    The lyrics are available in text form on line. There is no version that has "wring out the changes". I'm not sure what wringing out changes would mean or why it would be beneficial. Do you have a motivation for this alternative?
     

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    The lyrics are available in text form on line.
    Do you mean that you have an official source? The "this is what I hear" lyric sites are often wrong and their posters are unlikely to be familiar with this bell thing or the word "wring". You haven't really accounted for "out".
    Listening to the song myself, I'm not sure of "(w)ring" or "of how" (it really sounds like "about").
     

    MuttQuad

    Senior Member
    English - AmE
    The lyrics are available in text form on line. There is no version that has "wring out the changes". I'm not sure what wringing out changes would mean or why it would be beneficial. Do you have a motivation for this alternative?
    Yes. The Poster didn't indicate that he had a written set of lyrics, and people often "hear" words that are not the ones meant but do sound the same. I understand what "wring" out would mean in this context better than "ring out," and so posited that perhaps there had been a listening error.

    That being said, the verse doesn't seem to make all that much sense anyway.
     

    PaulQ

    Banned
    UK
    English - England
    In the past, and may be now, bells were rung in a certain sequence to announce an event: a birth, death, marriage, a threat, a curfew, etc.
    to ring II. Senses connected with the sound of bells.
    7. trans. b. to ring out : to indicate or announce loudly and clearly.

    1975 Cincinnati Mag. Oct. 12/3 Far and near, east, west, north, south, the city's bells rang out the tidings.
    1998 S. Douglass Pilgrim lxv. 557 The bells rang out the hours, the workday, the holidays, the watches, the curfew , and—unknown to most of the aristocracy of the city—they also rang out coded messages.
    Thus I would understand "When you ring out the changes of how everything is" = When you announce to the world how everything is
     

    frangs

    Senior Member
    Spanish Spain
    In the past, and may be now, bells were rung in a certain sequence to announce an event: a birth, death, marriage, a threat, a curfew, etc.Thus I would understand "When you ring out the changes of how everything is" = When you announce to the world how everything is
    Yes, this was my option after reading all the explanations.
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Do you mean that you have an official source? The "this is what I hear" lyric sites are often wrong and their posters are unlikely to be familiar with this bell thing or the word "wring". You haven't really accounted for "out".
    Listening to the song myself, I'm not sure of "(w)ring" or "of how" (it really sounds like "about").
    No, I mean that I looked on the official Van Morrison site but didn't find the lyrics. I searched via Google for any occurrence of "wring out the changes of how everything is" and found none. This isn't conclusive of course.

    I have just searched online for the shorter phrase "wring out the changes". There are only seven results and that fact suggests a simple spelling mistake to me. The phrase, "ring out the changes" has thousands of hits.
     
    Last edited:

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I looked for the lyrics on Google as I am not a native English speaker. All the versions I have found say "ring out" except a few which say "bring out". Another poster gave me an answer in line with Biffo's after I had posted my question here. (here: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=2839554&p=14351632&posted=1#post14351632).
    I listened to the song the word was definitely "ring" not "bring".

    Everyone is speculating so here is another hypothesis.

    A singer called Richard Thompson has more than once appeared on the same bill as Van Morrison. He has a song called Time to ring some changes. There is a remarkable parallel between his words and Van Morrison's.

    This old house is a tumbling down
    The walls are gone but the roof is sound
    The landlord’s deaf, he can never be found
    It’s time to ring some changes...

    http://www.songlyrics.com/richard-thompson/time-to-ring-some-changes-lyrics/

    In Thompson's song there is a string of references to life's problems. In Morrison's there is a string of references to positive events. I suggest that Morrison's song is intended as a straightforward antithesis to Thompson's song of woe.

    In Thompson's song "ring some changes" means simply "make some changes."

    My conclusion

    Van Morrison is parodying Thompson's song and all those of its ilk. I say that the line indicates that the necessary changes are actually being fulfilled for once.

    "When you ring out the changes of how everything is" means "When you finally sort out a lot of life's problems."
     
    Last edited:

    gengo

    Senior Member
    American English
    My conclusion

    Van Morrison is parodying Thompson's song and all those of its ilk. I say that the line indicates that the necessary changes are actually being fulfilled for once.

    "When you ring out the changes of how everything is" means "When you finally sort out a lot of life's problems."
    That seems perfectly reasonable to me.
     

    frangs

    Senior Member
    Spanish Spain
    I listened to the song the word was definitely "ring" not "bring".

    I say that the line indicates that the necessary changes are actually being fulfilled for once.

    "When you ring out the changes of how everything is" means "When you finally sort out a lot of life's problems."
    Then, "ring out" means something like "fulfill" here? I don't understand the syntax of this sentence; the part "the changes of how everything is" is confusing also but he could be using just a combination that would fit into the meter of the song.

    Also, I found this sentence "Bells ring out the changes of our days" whose construction is very similar to that in Morrison's song. It's here http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olympic_Bell about the Bell made for London Olympic Games.
     
    Last edited:

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    ... I don't understand the syntax of this sentence; the part "the changes of how everything is" is confusing also but he could be using just a combination that would fit into the meter of the song.
    "the changes of how everything is" is not how to read it. Look at the following:

    "When you ring out the changes of X" ----> When you [triumphantly] change X.

    "how everything is" ----> the status quo.

    When you [triumphantly] change the status quo..

    Does that help?

    _____________________________________________________________________
    Note
    I forgot to mention an important idiom. :eek: I can't believe I missed it.

    Ring out the old, ring in the new

    Traditionally we ring the church bells at midnight on NewYear's Eve. This celebrates the passing of the old year and the birth of the new.

    Ring out the old, ring in the new,Ring, happy bells, across the snow:The year is going, let him go;Ring out the false, ring in the true.
    "Ring Out, Wild Bells" is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_Out,_Wild_Bells

    It is a celebration of a fresh start in life. We make New Year's resolutions and vow to do better. We decide what we will change.
     
    Last edited:

    frangs

    Senior Member
    Spanish Spain
    "the changes of how everything is" is not how to read it. Look at the following:

    "When you ring out the changes of X" ----> When you [triumphantly] change X.

    "how everything is" ----> the status quo.

    When you [triumphantly] change the status quo..

    Does that help?
    Yes it does, very clear. My only doubt now is the equivalence of "ring out the changes" and "make changes" (or "change").

    I still see that the option "When you announce the changes of how everything is", i.e. (following your explanation) "When you announce the changes of the status quo", works perfectly in the song context.

    During the whole song, he has been declaring that there will be days when solutions to the life's problems will be find, and he ends the song (it is significant that this is the last verse) saying there will be one day when all these changes will be joyfully announced.

    What do you think?

    _____________________________________________________________________
    Note
    I forgot to mention an important idiom. :eek: I can't believe I missed it.

    Ring out the old, ring in the new

    Traditionally we ring the church bells at midnight on NewYear's Eve. This celebrates the passing of the old year and the birth of the new.

    Ring out the old, ring in the new,Ring, happy bells, across the snow:The year is going, let him go;Ring out the false, ring in the true.
    "Ring Out, Wild Bells" is a poem by Alfred, Lord Tennyson.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_Out,_Wild_Bells

    It is a celebration of a fresh start in life. We make New Year's resolutions and vow to do better.
    Also, I have seen that in your example "ring out" is used with the negative things, those which you want to leave behind (the old, the false,...) in contrast with Morrison's song. It makes me thing that "ring out" in the New Year's poem is something like "take out", "forget",...
     

    Biffo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Yes it does, very clear. My only doubt now is the equivalence of "ring out the changes" and "make changes" (or "change").
    I still see that the option "When you announce the changes of how everything is", i.e. (following your explanation) "When you announce the changes of the status quo", works perfectly in the song context.
    During the whole song, he has been declaring that there will be days when solutions to the life's problems will be find, and he ends the song (it is significant that this is the last verse) saying there will be one day when all these changes will be joyfully announced.
    What do you think?
    Also, I have seen that in your example "ring out" is used with the negative things, those which you want to leave behind (the old, the false,...) in contrast with Morrison's song. It makes me thing that "ring out" in the New Year's poem is something like "take out", "forget",...
    Well you have persuaded me to change my opinion. Let us take into account what PaulQ said in #7. I think a minor tweak to this does the trick.

    Let us say that, "ring out the changes" simply means "celebrate." Then the whole line makes sense. We get a simpler and more satisfactory explanation.

    When you ring out the changes of how everything is ----> Simply means, "When you celebrate how your life is"
     
    Last edited:

    frangs

    Senior Member
    Spanish Spain
    Well you have persuaded me to change my opinion. Let us take into account what PaulQ said in #7. I think a minor tweak to this does the trick.

    Let us say that, "ring out the changes" simply means "celebrate." Then the whole line makes sense. We get a simpler and more satisfactory explanation.

    When you ring out the changes of how everything is ----> Simply means, "When you celebrate how your life is"
    Well, it's only an option. The fact that you, native speakers, are having such a hard time trying to decipher the "real" meaning is a sign that this is one of those verses (like in many poems, songs,...) which is open to interpretation. (I have just twitted Morrison's official account, No answer is expected but wanted to try :D)
     
    < Previous | Next >
    Top