suffer little children


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Driving back from a late-night errand last night, I heard a very slow version of the song “Mad World” on KCRW. The same tune has cropped up on several mix CDs over the last year, and haunted the latter sections of the movie “Donnie Darko.” The song came up on a discussion group, and one of the members was stunned to find out it was originally written by Tears For Fears.

Now, I have been a not-so-secret Tears For Fears dork for decades now, as I think Roland Orzabal, when he’s trying, can do amazing things with pop music. Their first album was “The Hurting,” which was a semi-permanent cassette in my first Walkman, featuring made-for-high-school lines like “I find it kind of funny, I find it kind of sad / The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had.” Like my brother Sean said, they were “two guys who wanted to create music based on primal scream therapy that sounded nothing like John Lennon’s ‘Mother’.”

Can you imagine any band in this day and age getting together because they wanted to write songs about Primal Scream therapy? Fucking unthinkable, but par for the course in 1982. Primal Scream therapy was developed by Arthur Janov, who believed that most of life’s fear, anger and angst came from the horrifying moment we were ripped from our mother’s womb, and the only way to be “whole” again was to engage in a ritualistic re-enactment of the birthing process. This eventually led to patients screaming

0 thoughts on “suffer little children

  1. Mom

    But, oh, the hair, the HAIR! Nothing marks the 80s like the hair (and bad synthesizers).
    But I agree about some of the TFF tracks, which even an ancient crone like me still likes.
    As for Sting, I can forgive him his pretentiousness, and just about everything else that makes him a mixed blessing, because of “Fortress Around My Heart”… both for the perfect lyrics and the heart-stopping harmonies. Great stuff. The later songs are pretty tedious for the most part, but “Shape of my Heart,” less complex than “Fortress” but beautifully shaped, and quite wrenching even so.
    Or maybe I just like music that makes me suffer a bit.

  2. cullen

    In an attempt to bridge yesterday and today’s blog, can we now assume that your favorite Sting album is Nothing Like the ‘Son’ (it’s mine) or that you might name a daughter Roxanne? Every little thing she does will be magic in your eyes and he could grow up to be a proud member of the um… police? Primal screams can come from tiny cribs, but there are also lots of happy songs from big comfy chairs.
    I noticed your musical mom waxed informatively on circa-1980s pop culture; studied musicians leave no stones unturned, especially those designed to wall up teased hair forever. I’d like to hear mom’s opinion on the baby business. Grandmothers have a graceful way of calming baby tears and your very normal fears.
    New York needs more North Carolinians. I’ll butt out now; I think I have too much time on my hands.


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