Dream Theater Wiki
A Change of Seasons
A Change of Seasons
Length 23:09
Working title
Release date September 19, 1995
Lyrics Mike Portnoy
First live performance Birch Hill Nite Club, Old Bridge, NJ, USA, on Jun. 9, 1995
Total live plays 162 (approx.)
Recorded BearTracks Studios
Other appearances Live Scenes from New York, Once in a LIVEtime, Live at Budokan 2017
Previous song Awake (album)
Next song Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding

Falling Into Infinity (album)

A Change of Seasons is the first track off of Dream Theater's EP of the same name, and is the first Dream Theater song released to feature Derek Sherinian on keyboards following Kevin Moore's departure after the release of Awake. It is also the first of six songs in Dream Theater's discography that passes 20 minutes in length.

The lyrics were written by Mike Portnoy about the death of his mother, Andrea Held Leone, who died in a tragic plane crash in November 1984, after the pilot suffered a heart attack.

The song is split into seven parts, which are as follows:

  • I. The Crimson Sunrise
  • II. Innocence
  • III. Carpe Diem
  • IV. The Darkest of Winters
  • V. Another World
  • VI. The Inevitable Summer
  • VII. The Crimson Sunset

John Petrucci recorded this song using a 7-string guitar in standard tuning (B-E-A-D-G-B-E).


  • Mike Portnoy - Drums
  • John Petrucci - Guitars
  • John Myung - Bass
  • James LaBrie - Vocals
  • Derek Sherinian - Keyboards
  • David Prater - Producer


  • This song includes samples from the films "Dead Poets Society", “Table for Five”, and from the Robert Herrick poem, "To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time".
  • An edited version of the title track was used in a downhill skiing feature during the 2002 Winter Olympic Games.
  • For the band's 2017 Images, Words, And Beyond Tour, this song was often played as an encore, albeit a half step down to better suit James LaBrie's voice.
  • This song was not written for when they started recording the EP. The band initially wanted to have Images and Words be a double album, and include A Change of Seasons along with it, but ATCO Records wouldn't allow it. There is a live video performance of the band performing this song in 1993, which can be found on Youtube, however the arrangement found in the video is drastically different from the EP version, with a different intro and some differences in phrasing, lyrics, and notes. Petrucci also plays the song with a standard-tuned 6-string guitar, instead of a 7-string like on the EP version. When Derek Sherinian joined the band, he rewrote the intro, and the rest of the band helped to rework the music, and Portnoy rewrote some lyrics to make the song into what is is today.





I remember a time
My frail, virgin mind
Watched the crimson sunrise
Imagined what it might find
Life was filled with wonder
I felt the warm wind blow
I must explore the boundaries
Transcend the depth of winter's snow

Innocence caressing me
I never felt so young before
There was so much life in me
Still I longed to search for more

But those days are gone now
Changed like a leaf on a tree
Blown away forever
Into the cool autumn breeze
The snow has now fallen
And my sun's not so bright
I struggle to hold on
With the last of my might

In my den of inequity
Viciousness and subtlety
Struggle to ease the pain
Struggle to finally see

Ignorance surrounding me
I've never been so filled with fear
All my life's been drained from me
The end is drawing near...


Carpe diem...
Seize the day...

I'll always remember
The chill of November
The news of the fall
The sounds in the hall
The clock on the wall
Ticking away...

"Seize the day!"
I heard him say
Life will not always be this way
Look around
Hear the sounds
Cherish your life
While you're still around

["Dead Poets Society" Sample:]

"Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying"

We can learn
From the past
But those days
Are gone

We can hope
For the future
But there may not be one

The words stuck in my mind
Alive from what I've learned
I have to seize the day
To home I returned

Preparing for her flight
I held with all my might
Fearing my deepest fright
She walked into the night
She turned for one last look
She looked me in the eye
I said, "I love you...

["Dead Poets Society" and "Table for Five" Samples:]

("It's the most awful thing you'll ever hear...")
("...your mom... who you dearly love, has had to leave all our lives...")
("Seize the day!")
("Something happened...")
("Gather ye rosebuds while ye may.")
("...she was killed.")




So far or so it seems
All is lost
With nothing fulfilled
Off the pages and the
T.V. screen
Another world
Where nothing's true

Tripping through
The life fantastic
Lose a step
And never get up
Left alone
With a cold blank stare
I feel like giving up

I was blinded by a paradise
Utopia high in the sky
A dream that only drowned me
Deep in sorrow, wondering why

Oh, come let us adore him
Abuse and then ignore him
No matter what
Don't let him be
Let's feed upon his misery
Then string him up for all the world to see

I'm sick of all you hypocrites
Holding me at bay
And I don't need your sympathy
To get me through the day

Seasons change and so can I
Hold on boy, no time to cry
Untie these strings, I'm climbing down
I won't let them push me away

Oh, come let us adore him
Abuse and then ignore him
No matter what
Don't let him be
Let's feed upon
His misery
Now it's time for them
To deal with me




I'm much wiser now
A lifetime of memories
Run through my head
They taught me how
For better or worse
Alive or dead
I realize
There's no turning back
Life goes on
The offbeaten track

I sit down with my son
Set to see the crimson sunset
(Gather ye rosebuds while ye may)
Many years have come and gone
I've lived my life, but now must move on
(Gather ye rosebuds while ye may)

He is my only one
Now that my time has come
Now that my life is done
We look into the sun

Seize the day
And don't you cry
Now it's time 
to say good-bye
Even though
I'll be gone
I will live on
Live on

Tone and Analysis[]

Overall, the entire song is very progressive, with John Petrucci using a seven-string guitar to play the song. To analyze the song, it's easier to break it down section by section.

I. The Crimson Sunrise[]

The first section of the song starts out very subdued, with a calming acoustic melody being played, and shortly being joined by piano. The acoustic melody gives way after a couple of minutes to the full band to a heavier version of the melody from before. The song moves through several alternate picking patterns and instrumental melodies before moving to a section alternating between 3/4 and 9/8. The section ends with a rapid alternate picked passage on guitar in 17/16 syncopated with the bass and percussion.

II. Innocence[]

The second section segues directly from the first one, with the keyboard playing a sixteenth-note melody and the guitar and bass providing the background chords. After a few seconds, the guitar joins the keyboard to play the same melody in unison, which segues into a short guitar solo before the vocals start. When the vocals start, the guitar returns to a more acoustic sound for the first verse, but shortly returns to the distorted rock sound. The band stays at this state for a time, and the keyboard even reprises the melody from the beginning of this section. After the melody finishes, the band brings it back down a few decibels to the subdued acoustic sound. This continues until the next verse is finished, where it kicks back into the distorted sound until the next section.

III. Carpe Diem[]

The third section starts with arpeggiated chords being played on an acoustic guitar, and stays at this for the majority of the section, as it doesn't really pick up until the end of the section. This section also includes audio samples from the films "Dead Poets Society" and "Table For Five." The samples from Dead Poets Society are taken from the scene where Robin Williams' character has a student read "To the Virgins, To Make Much of Time" by Robert Herrick to the class at the school he teaches. The samples from Table For Five are taken from the scene in which J.P. Tannen, played by Jon Voight, tells his children that their mother has been killed.

IV. The Darkest of Winters[]

This is the second of three instrumental sections in this song, along with The Crimson Sunrise and The Inevitable Summer. This section is relatively heavy, and includes a unison with the keyboard, guitar and bass. This moves into small little solo sections for the instruments, starting with bass, then guitar, then keyboard.

V. Another World[]

This section slows way down, and brings back the acoustic guitar, and a pipe organ is featured prominently for the first measures. This section is mostly acoustic, but comes back with distorted guitars when the subject of the song decides they will no longer be held down by those who would oppose them.

VI. The Inevitable Summer[]

This is the third and final instrumental section of the song. It stays fairly melodic, for the most part, but then jumps into a heavy, chugging riff which gives way to a keyboard solo by Derek Sherinian. Once the keyboard solo finishes, there are a few leitmotifs from the beginning of the song which are brought back. A small guitar solo ends this section off.

VII. The Crimson Sunset[]

The beginning of this section segues directly from the end of the solo, with the subject talking about how much wiser they have become from their life experiences. This section stays fairly heavy, similar to the previous section, but gives way to an almost melodic finale with a prominent piano theme. The song seems to end with a F#sus4 chord with the low B string added in, but the acoustic theme from the beginning of The Crimson Sunrise is reprised for the last few measures as the cymbals roll out and the other instruments fade into silence, eventually leaving only the acoustic guitar to finish the song.