Listen to this track by multi-platinum one-time primal screamers and pop song craftsmen Tears For Fears. It’s “Sowing The Seeds of Love”, the title track from their 1989 record Sowing The Seeds of Love.
The immediate reaction to it at the time was to acknowledge its tie to the Beatles, particularly the “All You Need Is Love” era. This song certainly references that earlier song thematically, as well as sonically, with a bit of “I Am The Walrus” thrown in for good measure.
I think too it was a reaction against the loss of political conscience of nations, and their people. This was also a marker of the era, when songs on the radio were no longer making comment on the state of the world. This one was a notable exception.
So what made a big-selling pop band turn in a statement that ran so contrary to the approach of most pop bands looking to trouble the charts?
Like their other records, this song was very much rooted in the times in which it was released. Margaret Thatcher had won her third consecutive win as leader of the British Conservative Party in that very same decade where the world seemed to make a violent swing to the right. This song was, in part, a reaction to all that.
I think too it was something of a rallying cry to their peers as well; kick out the Style bring back the Jam, indeed. Maybe this is why the Beatles references were included so overtly; everyone can appreciate the Beatles, right? Well, whether that’s true or not, the Sixties was a time when political statements were being made overtly in pop culture and when engaged audiences were buying records. If you’re concerned about the lack of engagement in your own era, you could do worse than referencing that earlier one. As it turned out, audiences were certainly receptive to this song; it was a smash success, beaming with idealism, even if it is also full of concern.
Even if the world remained to be a troubled place after this song was released, the ensuing years would lead to relative political calm, with the fall of the Berlin Wall and up until 9/11. By 1991, Thatcher was out, even if the Tories were still in. But, unfortunately, Tears For Fears co-founder Curt Smith was also out. He and singer-guitarist and songwriter Roland Orzabal fell out during a time of great financial upheaval for the band, and acrimoniously so. Orzabal would make Tears For Fears a one-man show during the 1990s. So much for the seeds of love, at least temporarily.
But, those seeds would germinate, and grow after all. After having dinner one night in their native Bath in 2000, Smith and Orzabal would re-form and eventually come back with a new record appropriately titled Everybody Loves A Happy Ending in 2004, which was also a success.
And at the time of this writing , and after releasing a cover version of Arcade Fire’s “Ready To Start”, Tears For Fears will soon release yet another new record, while also celebrating the release of the super-duper-deluxe version of their first album The Hurting, which was released 30 (eek!) years ago this year.
You can learn more news about all of this at Tearsforfears.com.