When Life is Hard You Have to Change

Addiction and change

Life can most definitely be hard at times. Life can be cruel, twisted and merciless.

Equally, life can be breathtaking and wonderful.


So what prompted me to reflect on such aspects of life?

I have just been listening to Blind Melon’s self-titled debut album released in 1992. It was track six, Change that resonated with me the most.

Do we all have the ability to change? Particularly when life presents us with the most extreme of life’s adversities.

Blind Melon’s Shannon Hoon sings the following:

I don’t feel the suns comin’ out today
It’s staying in, it’s gonna find another way
As I sit here in this misery
I don’t think I’ll ever know
See the sun from here

There are differing views about the meaning of the lyrics. In my humble opinion, I am going with the belief that Hoon was expressing the idea that life does not always go our way and if possible we need to do something about it.

Hoon’s lyrics above appear to be conveying a metaphor for feeling down, at the very least.

And oh as I fade away
They’ll all look at me and say, and they’ll say
Hey look at him, I’ll never live that way
And that’s okay
They’re just afraid to change

However, Hoon’s above lyrics, particularly the last line presents itself as a very open and honest message.

Some of us are afraid of change, whilst others are not. I most certainly know of many people that despite change being in their best interests, they are either in denial, afraid or simply do not have the emotional resources to change their approach and, or attitude to life.

When you feel your life ain’t worth living
You’ve got to stand up
And take a look around and you look way up to the sky
Yeah, and when your deepest thoughts are broken
Keep on dreaming boy, ’cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die

Hoon appears to explore this concept further in the above lyrics. “When you feel your life ain’t worth living, you’ve got to stand up, and take a look around and you look way up to the sky.”

I completely agree with Hoon’s message of metaphorically standing up and looking around. For me, I believe Hoon’s message was that in times of adversities we need to take a step back, take stock of what we are dealing with and consider a measured response.

However, such a statement or even advice is easier said than done when one is faced with the worst that life can often throw at us.

And this is where I believe Hoon acknowledges this difficulty with his lyric “yeah, and when your deepest thoughts are broken, keep on dreaming boy, ’cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die.” I believe Hoon’s message in this sentence is that despite whatever is thrown at you, do not stop dreaming. If we stop dreaming, if we lose sight of our purpose, we may as well give up.

Hoon’s final lyrics of the song have an ominous undertone to them.

And oh as I fade away
They’ll all look at me and they’ll say
Hey look at him and where he is these days
When life is hard, you have to change
When life is hard, you have to change

The last two lines carry a tragic resonance. Hoon’s lyrics appear to be presenting the obvious message, “when life is hard, you have to change.”

We know, with the rising success of the band, Hoon was having multiple stints in drug rehabilitation due to drug and alcohol abuse.

Tragically, Hoon was found dead on the band’s tour bus of a heart attack caused by cocaine overdose in 1995.


As a psychiatric nurse, I believe the nature of alcohol and drug addiction should come under the umbrella term of mental health disorders.

The uninitiated put forward the argument that those who use misuse alcohol and drugs lack moral principles or willpower and that all is needed is for these users tosimply choose to no longer use alcohol and, or drugs.

However, the reality is far different from such ill-informed and stereotypical assumptions. We now understand that drug and alcohol addiction is a complex disease. Evidence informs us that abstinence usually takes more than good intentions or a strong will. Alcohol and drugs change the behaviours of the brain in ways that make quitting incredibly difficult for those that want to stop using.


Whether it was the rock and roll lifestyle or past demons that drove Hoon into alcohol and drug use. Who knows?

Whatever the answer, Hoon paid the ultimate price. Due to the complexities and risks of alcohol and drug addiction Hoon tragically was unable to live by his lyrics “when life is hard, you have to change.”

As someone who works with individuals that struggle with the complex nature of addictions, I understand that Hoon’s inability to change was not his fault. Such is the complex and misunderstood nature of addiction.

Note in the live performance below, second verse in, Hoon sings the lyrics “keep on dreaming boy, ’cause when you stop dreamin’ it’s time to die” and adds the emotively delivered lyrics “and I don’t wanna die” to the end of that lyric. Simply tragic.

The very first song Hoon ever wrote was in fact Change. His grave is inscribed with the following song’slyrics:

I know we can’t all stay here forever

So I want to write my words on the face of today and they’ll paint it


Originally published in Medium publication ‘Invisible Illness‘ 01/03/19.

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