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The last hit

Tears for Fears – Woman in Chains

#quotefromthe80s
And I feel hopelessly weighed down by your eyes of steel (your eyes of steel)
Well it's a world gone crazy
Keeps woman in chains
#TearsForFears #OletaAdams #WomanInChains

Tears for Fears released Woman in chains on November 6, 1989, a couple of months after Sowing the seeds of love, and therefore it was one of the last hits of the 80s. But in some sense it was really the last hit of the decade, because the 80s did not finish on Dec 31, 1989, but some weeks earlier. In fact, from a music and content perspective, the 80s ended with the fall of the Berlin Wall, which happened on November 9, 1989.

The song talks about a woman trapped in her relationship with a possessive and aggressive man. Roland Orzabal wanted to cover this sensitive topic after studying matriarchal cultures and civilizations, which all happen to have almost non-existing levels of animosity.

The song is wonderful and really evocative, thanks also to Oleta Adams’ fantastic voice. As always, the destiny of the 80s cast his dice: during Summer 1985 Tears for Fears were on tour in the United States for Songs from the big chair. They played in Kansas City on Jun 29, and before leaving for the next gig they enjoyed listening to some good live music in a bar.

Oleta Adams was on stage that night, completely unknown to Roland and Curt. Oleta’s voice went straight to Roland’s brain, as he mentioned in a documentary. Roland was so shocked by that voice that he believed he had found the perfect voice and the perfect singer, and this left him with some negative feeling: at the end of the tour he had to visit an analyst, because after hearing Oleta’s voice he felt completely out of role as a singer and a pop star: her voice was far more powerful and evocative than any electronic trick or autotune!

Maybe his analyst was also a talented agent, because he suggested Roland to look for Oleta, contact her, and verify if she would be interested in collaborating with Tears for Fears. Roland followed his advice and got in touch with Oleta, who was also a fan of Tears For Fears, maybe she had also attended their concert in Kansas City, and she couldn’t believe when she got the proposal to join them in England and work on their next album!
So she was kind of promoted and onboarded with this song, which talks about the too often unfair condition of women in a men’s world, moreover in 1989.

Actually Roland revealed later how the song was also a way to remember his mother, and also to focus on men’s feminine component, too often relegated. The last verse, “Free her”, is just for this.

Tears for Fears really wanted the best collaborators for this song: not only Oleta Adams, but also the vocalists Tessa Niles (who sang with all greatest artists in the 80s, including Duran Duran in the albums Notorious and Big Thing, Wham!, Eurythmics, Police, and at Live Aid she sang Heroes with David Bowie) and Carol Kenyon, vocalist for Heaven 17 in Temptation, for Paul Hardcastle and many others.

They also featured Luis Jardim, one of the great percussionists of the 80s, then husband to Linda Allen Jardim, the vocalist of Buggles’ Video killed the radio star, Pino Palladino, fantastic bass player, and in the final part of the song there is also the master drummer of the 80s, Phil Collins.

In summary, a fantastic song, which entered the hall of fame of the 80s, and of all the following decades.

Tears for Fears and Oleta Adams on Wikipedia

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