The right closing song will leave the…
- Posted on Aug 20th 2010 4:30PM by James Sullivan
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But the psychotherapist's biggest followers in the pop world may have been Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal, the two core members of the synth-pop collaboration Tears for Fears. Before the group hit the big time with 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World,' 'Head Over Heels' and 'Sowing the Seeds of Love,' they debuted with what was essentially a concept album about letting go of repressed childhood memories.
As young teenagers, Orzabal and Smith met in Bath, England, bonding over their unhappy childhoods. Orzabal in particular had a contentious relationship with his father, who was of Spanish descent. (As a baby, he had been named Raoul, but the name was changed to Roland a few weeks later.)
Budding musicians, Smith and Orzabal began performing with a group called Neon. (Two bandmates would later form the New Wave band Naked Eyes). When Neon broke up, the pair formed another group, called Graduate, taking the name from the 1967 movie that gave them a favorite cover song, 'Mrs. Robinson.'
A mod-influenced group, Graduate released one album in 1980, with a modestly successful single called 'Elvis Should Play Ska' (Costello, not Presley). The founders soon left to form yet another group. Initially called the History of Headaches, it was soon renamed Tears for Fears.
They borrowed the name from Janov's concept of using "tears as a replacement for fears." The group's 1983 debut, 'The Hurting,' which featured a cover image of a boy with his head in his hands, included song titles from Janov phrases such as 'The Prisoner' and 'Ideas as Opiates.' Orzabal once explained that the song 'Pale Shelter' ("You don't give me love/You give me pale shelter ... /You give me cold hands") was "a kind of a love song, though referring more to one's parents than to a girl."
"We were really big on this at the time," said Orzabal. "We really thought children were born innocent and good and holy."
The breakthrough track on 'The Hurting'' proved to be 'Mad World,' which reached No. 3 in the UK. (A somber version of the song by Gary Jules, recorded for the 'Donnie Darko' soundtrack, became a surprise No. 1 in the UK during Christmas 2003.)
With 1985's 'Songs From the Big Chair,' Tears for Fears became international superstars. The title came from 'The Big Chair,' an eerie instrumental B-side (with a percussive sound like a knife being sharpened), featuring audio clips from 'Sybil,' the TV movie about multiple-personality disorder.
That year, the band was scheduled as a main act at the Live Aid event in Philadelphia, but Smith and Orzabal pulled out at the last moment. Following the concert, they revealed that they'd felt bullied by organizer Bob Geldof after questioning his motives. Orzabal claimed Geldof told the group they would be "responsible for the death of a half-million Africans."
"Who is Bob Geldof to have the power to install guilt?" asked Smith.
That, as we all know, is a parent's job – or a songwriting partner's. After the long, strained process of producing their third album, 1989's 'Sowing the Seeds of Love,' the founding members of Tears for Fears split up, refusing to speak for a decade. Orzabal continued to record under the name, exploring his family heritage with songs such as 'Sketches of Pain' and 'God's Mistake.'
In recent years, however, Orzabal and Smith have reunited. In 2004, they released a new album, 'Everybody Loves a Happy Ending.' Currently in the middle of a US tour, they've been sampled by Nas and Kanye West; in 2010, Dizzee Rascal sampled one of the band's biggest hits, 'Shout,' for a World Cup fight song for England.
Oddly, the original 'Shout' was not inspired by Janov, the primal therapist. Orzabal has said that it was actually a call to protest in a culture of apathy.
When the two primal-scream advocates were finally introduced to Janov, after they'd become worldwide pop stars, they were underwhelmed. He wanted to know if they'd write a musical about him.