Friday, June 15, 2018


Great things happen in curious ways. Stephen King’s Carrie only saw the light of day because his wife Tabitha picked the manuscript out of the trash. Han Solo's "I know" to Princess Leia's "I love you" was gut instinct on behalf of Harrison Ford. While Tears for Fears' 1985 single "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" was a last-minute addition to their iconic sophomore album, Songs from the Big Chair, all thanks to two chords co-founder Roland Orzabal randomly played on his acoustic guitar for producer Chris Hughes. As the band's other half, Curt Smith, explained: "I came in one day, and they'd actually written this song around this beat and it was very commercial, so they said, 'Here it is, you’re singing it, go and do it.' So I did."

It's the sort of mind-bending folklore that chaos theoreticians might get off on. As a single for 1985, the UK outfit couldn’t have written a track more apropos for the times; it's a meditative commentary on an era that was so corrupt economically and spiritually, and the same was true in America – Less Than Zero was the catalyst; it wouldn’t be long until there was American Psycho.

"The shuffle beat was alien to our normal way of doing things," Orzabal explained. "It was jolly rather than square and rigid in the manner of 'Shout,' but it continued the process of becoming more extrovert." Smith explained that they "were basically coerced by the record company to go in and do something to release quickly after The Hurting was successful." Though the production of the single strayed from their atypical style of writing — "what we prefer to do is just go away and make our own records" — it certainly sparked something within them.

Lyrically, Songs from the Big Chair remains their most focused effort. Inspired by the book and mini-series Sybil, about a woman with multiple personality disorder who finds comfort in the "Big Chair," the title was "kind of an 'up yours' to the English music press who really fucked [the band] up for a while," as Smith explained. "This is us now — and they can't get at us anymore." As such, the album touches upon their surroundings, from dusty Cold War paranoia ("Shout") to the corruption of power ("Everybody Wants to Rule the World") to parental guidance ("Mother's Talk") to the uncontrollable emotions that romance warrants ("Head Over Heels"). In keeping with its titular themes, "The Working Hour" and "Listen" play to the modes of therapy.

30 years ago. I need some therapy.