This song was written by Jay Clifford, lead singer/songwriter of Jump, Little Children and Rosebud, a musical side project. He wrote this song for Rosebud while overseas. Clifford prefaces the song with this statement:

“This was written when I was in Athens with a friend of mine. In Athens, they have really old things and they have people guarding these really old things with guns. And it’s fun to watch because these guys were dressed up as guards, and they were supposed to be really threatening people, but they were wearing these frilly clothes, like pinks and purples, puffy shirts, stockings and knickers, and these big shoes with pom-poms. The way they walked was graceful; more like ballet dancers than guards, and I found that really fascinating. They moved really slowly and walked in this swanlike gate. I was sitting there watching and as they moved, you know how things changed in your mind, and I thought, ‘wow, time has really slowed down’, and I just felt like sitting and watching.”


Changing of the Guards

today like paper to burn
like powder and gun
like iron red sun
I’ll wait
I’ll stay here and wait

today like bending to break
like water and sand
curling on land
I’ll wait
I’ll stay here and wait

I’ll sit and watch the changing of the guards
iron and granite
floating leaves
on the gate house
green frothy curtains
faces of stone

sometimes I’m floating
above the two soldiers
over the birds with paper wings
and porcelain eyes
I’ll wait

today like falling to stand
like timing and tongue
a hero unsung
I’ll wait
I’ll stay here and wait

today like bending to break
like water and sand
curling on land
I’ll wait
I’ll stay here and wait

I’ll sit and watch the changing of the guards
papers and brick lay over the underground treasures
the cameras are movers
faces of lies

sometimes I’m floating
above the two soldiers
over the birds with paper wings
and porcelain eyes
I’ll wait

I’ll sit and watch
I’ll sit and watch
I’ll sit and watch the changing of the guards

sometimes I’m floating
above the two soldiers
over the birds with paper wings
sometimes I’m floating
above the two soldiers
over the birds with paper wings
with paper wings
with paper wings
I’ll wait
I’ll wait



Personally, I find this song powerful because of the way Clifford is able to capture a fleeting moment with words. He uses contrasting images to explain the discontinuity of the guard’s personalities. Clifford speaks of “water and sand”, “bending to break”, and “falling to stand”. He gives the reader the clear idea of how the guards embody opposing images of their threatening stature and yet they are graceful and seem gentle. They stand before him holding weapons and yet they seem ridiculous in their uniforms.

Clifford also uses powerful imagery when speaking about his surroundings. He describes the guard house and the leaves that cascade around it as “green frothy curtains” and contrasts that with the stoney expressions of the guards. His ability to describe his setting so vividly gives his words power.

The point Clifford is trying to convey with this piece is that of time. He gives the reader a bird’s eye view of what he’s seeing, that one moment when the guards change. He speaks of living for the now and remembering that perfect snapshot in your own mind’s eye rather than trying to capture it with a photograph, which he calls “faces of lies”. Clifford is urging the reader not to miss the experience and live life instead of trying to capture it.

A recording of “Changing of the Guards” may be found here:
http://home.mindspring.com/~vespers/sounds.html
I suggest downloading the song, it helps convey the attitude of the piece.

CST Approved

Log in or registerto write something here or to contact authors.