Saturday Night Music, July 7, 2012: “Sowing the Seeds of Love,” Tears for Fears, 1989

This week, I was listening to one of the oldie stations on my earphones during my work day, and suddenly I was lost in reverie.  I knew exactly where I was and who I was when this lush, satisfying, musically panoramic song was first played.  I say panoramic because it made me see as well as feel things without even consulting MTV.

Roland Olazabal (l) and Curt Smith (r) of the Eighties synthpop group Tears for Fears in a tour photo from last year; same guys and same pose some thirty years later (Courtesy: AQP Soluciones)

Maaaan, I really liked Roland Orzabal‘s voice during the Eighties and Nineties, when Tears for Fears seemed to permeate the airwaves.   “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,”  and “Head Over Heels,” with Orzabal pleading, “don’t take my heart/don’t break my heart/don’t, don’t/don’t throw it away,” from Songs from the Big Chair made me turn up the car radio many times.  Lawd, yes.  It was how he sang it.

Cover of "Songs From the Big Chair"

It was “Songs From the Big Chair” that got my attention, with TFF’s ‘Head Over Heels’ (Courtesy: Amazon.com)

Four years after Big Chair came The Seeds of Love .  And at first, I did not recognize Orzabal’s voice or that of Curt Smith, but I know that I liked what I heard.  Creatively, they were going in another direction, and it showed.  (A million pound price tag to produce one good song?)  I remember asking someone who was also a fan whether it was worth picking up after such a long hiatus between albums.  “Seems like they put everything into that one song,” he opined.  “Sounds like ‘I Am The Walrus.’ ”  I smiled at that observation; I had concluded the same thing.  “The rest of the album, kinda blah.”

Hmmm, I thought.  I know that for me, when one song has such an impact on my senses, that it takes time before I would want to venture into the side alleys and climb other staircases of the rest of the album.  A lot of times, I would make the CD or 33-1/3 into a 45 several times until I let it play on from first to last.  Then I would find something else I liked.  So I didn’t take his advice, and learned to love the whole album.

“Sowing the Seeds of Love” woke up not only that nostalgia feel but how electronics and sound had progressed since The  Beatles were using bones and sticks with Sir George Martin on Abbey Road.  On certain albums it is even more evident than in others, but it wasn’t just genre, with the guys relying on machines.  It was louder, fuller and nearly bottomless.  This album also arrived at the moment when CDs were finally supplanting cassette tapes, and 33-1/3 albums were being phased out (except, of course, for DJs).  We were beginning to leave the analog world behind.  One could now experience the aesthetic difference of what had been left out and now was fully enhanced with CDs.

Little did I know that The Seeds of Love—on top of being TFF’s third and more ambitious album—was its most idea-driven and political undertaking ever.  Smith called “Sowing the Seeds of Love” the most complete song he and Orzabal had ever produced.  It wasn’t necessarily about love, but creating and nourishing an environment where love can bloom.

For example, “Woman in Chains,” featuring Orzabal’s protegêe Oleta Adams, was the product of what Orzabal was reading and learning at that time about feminism, and by extension, non-patriarchal societies.  Orzabal, in a Melody Maker interview, said, “They don’t have the man at the top and the women at the bottom. They’re matricentric (sic)—they have the woman at the centre and these societies are a lot less violent, a lot less greedy and there’s generally less animosity. […]  But the song is also about how men traditionally play down the feminine side of their characters and how both men and women suffer for it. […] I think men in a patriarchal society are sold down the river a bit—okay, maybe we’re told that we’re in control but there are also a hell of a lot of things that we miss out on, which women are allowed to be.”

The Seeds of Love

Tears for Fears’ third album, The Seeds of Love (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Sowing the Seeds of Love” therefore is actually an anti-Margaret Thatcher song, written in response to  The Iron Lady’s re-election to a third term as Prime Minister in 1987.   She’s the “Politician Granny.”  And in the face of what many felt was yet another disaster for Britain, Orzabal deliberately stirred up fleeting memories of a time when such things like love, respect, and brother- and sisterhood across communities, classes and even across countries seemed possible during the worldwide youth movement that rose during the Sixties.  I think that he was urging others to sow and grow “the seeds of love”  in the face of despair and regression.  That it was still all up to us to put “an end to need/and the politics of greed,” lyrics and sentiments that have even more relevance today.  Not necessarily with divisive government programs that turn the clock on progress, but with continuing human interaction and confronting those barriers that keep us all apart and isolated.

High time we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man
And the love train rides from coast to coast
DJ’s the man we love the most
Could you be, could you be squeaky clean
And smash any hope of democracy
As the headline says you’re free to choose
There’s egg on your face and mud on your shoes
One of these days they’re gonna call in the ruse, yeah

(Sowing the seeds of love) anything is possible
(Seeds of love) when you’re sowing the seeds of love
(Sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love) anything is possible
(Seeds of love) sowing the seeds of love (Sowing the seeds)

I spy tears in their eyes
They look to the skies for some kind of divine intervention
Food goes to waste, so nice to eat, so nice to taste
Politician Granny with your high ideals
Have you no idea how the majority feels
So without love and a promised land
We’re fools to the rules of a government plan
Kick out the style, bring back the jam

(Sowing the seeds of love) anything (seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love) (Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds, the birds and the bees, my girlfriend and me in love

Feel the pain, talk about it, if you’re a worried man then shout about it
Open hearts, feel about it, open minds, think about it
Everyone read about it, everyone scream about it
Everyone (everyone, yeah yeah)
Everyone (everyone) read about it, read about it
Read it in the books in the crannies
And the nooks there are books to read…Chorus!!!

(Sowing the seeds of love) Oh, the seeds of love
We’re sowing the seeds, sowing the seeds

We’re sowing the seeds of love. we’re sowing the seeds
Sowing the seeds of love, we’re sowing the seeds of love
(Mr. England sowing the seeds of love)

(Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes)
Time to eat all your words, swallow your pride, open your eyes
High time we made a stand (time to eat all your words)
And shook up the views of the common man (swallow your pride)
And the love train rides from coast to coast (open your eyes)
Every minute of every hour “I Love a Sunflower” (open your eyes)
And I believe in love power (open your eyes)
Love power, love (open your eyes) power

(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love…Sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)
We’re sowing the seeds (sowing the seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds of love, we’re sowing the seeds (seeds of love)
Sowing the seeds, an end to need, and the politics of greed with love
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love) anything (seeds of love) anything
(Sowing the seeds of love, Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds, an end to need, and the politics of greed with love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love, sowing the seeds of love)
(Sowing the seeds of love, seeds of love)

In an 2005 interview with Katherine Kelly in Sorted, Orzabal was looking forward to better things after breaking up the band in the early Nineties, and then reuniting with Smith a decade later.  In other words, that was then and this is now.

“At one point, out of the two of us, regardless of who did what, there sprung up an interesting beast. The fact is that I’ve had enough with doing TFF as myself, as me. I wanted to truly be on my own and therefore that leaves the option of Tears For Fears – what is it, what was it, does it have a future… we don’t know. We’re going to get together and see what emerges. Yes, there has been a lot of interest, but you can’t live your life by those things, it has to feel right. I don’t think either of us are the type of people who could actually put our prejudices aside and say, ‘We’re going do this for the money.’ We’re not like that.”

In fact, Roland says that he made more money in the ’90s than in the 80s, due to better contracts, more control, more of a catalogue. So, financially, he has done all right out of Tears for Fears. As for the fame, he doesn’t miss it.

“I was never a fame junky. I always liked the task and project of making records. When I went out on my own, I loved performing. To do great work, in my own opinion, is enough. What’s been good, is my level of success and fame has always been controllable. Had I been as big on my own in the 90’s as I was in the 80’s, it would have unleashed a monster! Most of the success has been outside the country and you can’t go through a career of 20 years of making records and not go through a major blip.

“I feel I’ve been lucky, to do what I do, and survive and make a living. At the end of the day, your life doesn’t evolve around success, but evolves around your immediate relationships, and that’s what makes your life extremely rich.”

Curt Smith of Tears For Fears today (Courtesy: Kicking with Old School)


In an interview with Kicking It Old School, Curt Smith talked about TFF then and now, and what he thinks about the music industry today
:

We’ve never considered “leaving a legacy”, all we can do is record the best music we are capable of at a given time and then try to find ways of performing that live.  The industry has changed in so many ways since we began it’s hard to know where to begin. The most obvious and detrimental change is the “big business” take over of the industry. It was once run by music lovers but is now run by bean-counters. Unfortunately this tends to kill artistic development and originality. On the upside, the internet is now here and has begun to level the playing field somewhat. Hopefully this will result in the demise of major labels and the growth of small independent labels and artists.

[…]

I’ve never been a big believer in the “celebrities are special” thing, and social media lets me connect directly with fans, friends and fellow musicians in a way that layers of publicists, producers and the like often actively work to hinder. Twitter in particular is appealing because of its very nature: short bursts of information, made available immediately. I like blogging as well, but it’s more challenging because I’ve got two young kids and don’t often have uninterrupted time to compose lengthier missives. I’ve been encouraged to do some video blogging and more Twitter chats, so you can look for that in 2011.

Roland Orzabal lives in Britain with his wife, Caroline.  He is the father of two grown sons, Raoul and Pascal  (Raoul was Roland’s original name, but it was Anglicized and changed during his childhood).  Curt Smith has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since 2007 and lives in Southern California with his second wife Frances and two young daughters, Diva and Wilder.  Smith has appeared on Psych, and in 2011 did a webcast, Stripped Down Live with Curt Smith.   He continues to be a great follower of Manchester United.  Tears for Fears celebrated its 30th year in 2011.

~ by blksista on July 7, 2012.

 
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