Tears For Fears – Change
From suffering and pain can be born masterpieces in the fields of art, poetry, music or literature, this is an evidence on which we all agree, I guess. Perhaps it is a little stranger to imagine that a masterpiece born of a hurting situation ends up in the space of a week to the top of the chart of the best-selling pop albums in England, but in the 80s this also happened.
After all, the name of this group speaks of suffering, and comes from a theory that seems to fascinate the world of music for decades. After some experiences in other groups, Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith had given their group the name of Tears For Fears inspired by the theory of psychologist Arthur Janov, the primal theory, according to which neuroses can be the aftermath of traumas experienced in childhood and never expressed. Janov rose to fame in the 1970s when John Lennon became his patient, and in addition to Tears For Fears, another group would also be inspired years later by his studies, Primal Scream.
Roland Orzabal vented traumas and stories from a difficult childhood in songs, so the songs of Tears For Fears often talked about topics such as child abuse, psychological trauma or even depression. And starting in October 1981, their songs reflected these arguments right from the titles, because the first singles were Suffer The Children, Pale Shelter, and Mad World. This last song above all gave them greater visibility, and so we arrive at the end of January 1983, when the beautiful Change comes out, which in fact probably marks a change in the history and visibility of the group.
Change climbed the charts almost all over the world and for the first time made Tears For Fears famous in America too. The song was somehow different from the others: always very electronic, but a little less dark and more danceable. Even the topic was less gloomy: reading the text you will certainly find interesting concepts (I particularly like the phrase that says “where does the end of me become the start of you”), But the general topic of the song is not immediately clear. And indeed, when Roland Orzabal was asked the meaning of this song, he replied that there was no real sense, it was just a cheap pop song.
It may have been cheap, but it was fundamental for the success of their first album, which came out a month and a half later, with an explicit title, The Hurting, absolutely consistent with the starting point of the group. And after all, even their second album, the unforgettable Songs From The Big Chair, still recalls the topic of psychic discomfort, if it is true that the big chair was that the chair of the psychoanalyst who analyzed a woman with multiple personalities, and the main song, Shout, was probably still affected by Janov’s theory.
Change is an absolutely enthralling song, which has the distinction of being sung exclusively by Curt Smith, while Roland Orzabal in the video plays the guitar and interacts with other slightly weird characters. In fact, the whole video is a bit weird: filmed in what appears to be a shopping mall or business center (let’s remember that we are in the early 80s), there is an outdoor part in which Tears For Fears sing and play, but also a whole part shot inside in which we see a series of characters similar to humanoids or elves, dressed in cloaks and hooded, with the face covered by white masks like those used in Japanese theatres.
Even the video doesn’t have a real plot, it seems to be more of a flow of images and situations, but it is definitely an impressive video. When it came out it didn’t have much exposure especially outside of the UK, and so it might as well be that someone sees it for the first time.
Today we know that Tears For Fears were one of the deepest bands of the entire decade. The success that they were able to earn already in 1983 with the album The Hurting will never abandon them, even in the following decades, and they are still one of the most important groups still in business. And for them, with the success of Change, everything changed forever.
Tears For Fears on Wikipedia