Songs from the Big Chair

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Songs from the Big Chair
Studio album by Tears for Fears
Released 25 February 1985
Recorded 1984 at Wool Hall Studios, Beckington, Somerset, UK
Genre Rock, new wave, synthpop
Length 41:19
Label Phonogram/Mercury
Producer Chris Hughes
Tears for Fears chronology
The Hurting
Songs from the Big Chair
The Seeds of Love
Singles from Songs from the Big Chair
  1. "Mothers Talk"
    Released: August 1984
  2. "Shout"
    Released: November 1984
  3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
    Released: March 1985
  4. "Head over Heels"
    Released: June 1985
  5. "I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)"
    Released: September 1985
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[1]
Q 4/5 stars (1985)
3/5 stars (1999)[2]
Robert Christgau B[3]
Rolling Stone (favorable)[4]

Songs from the Big Chair is the second album by the British rock band Tears for Fears. It was released in 1985 on Phonogram Records, and remains their highest selling album to date. The album peaked at #2 in the UK (where it remained in the Top 10 for over six months and in the Top 40 for over a year) and reached #1 (for five weeks) in the US. It contained a string of international hit singles, including: "Mothers Talk", "Shout", "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and "Head over Heels".

Background and reception[edit]

The album title was derived from the 1976 television film Sybil about a woman with multiple personality disorder who only feels safe when she is sitting in her analyst's "big chair".

In a retrospective review published in Allmusic, Stanton Swihart commented "In the loping, percolating 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World', Tears for Fears perfectly captured the zeitgeist of the mid-'80s while impossibly managing to also create a dreamy, timeless pop classic. Songs from the Big Chair is one of the finest statements of the decade."[1]

Once the band had finished a lengthy touring and promotion schedule for the album, they took an extended hiatus from the music industry. In 1989, their third album, The Seeds of Love, marked their return. A companion video documentary entitled Scenes from the Big Chair was released in late 1985.

The album has been included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Slant Magazine listed the album at #95 on its list of "Best Albums of the 1980s".[5]


In 1998, MFSL remastered and re-issued the album with an extended "Head over Heels" (running 5:24) and two bonus tracks (extended mixes of "Shout" and "Everybody Wants to Rule the World").

The album was remastered and re-issued on CD in 1999 with bonus tracks, including B-sides and remixes. The tracklisting is based on the Special Edition cassette version of the album, which featured five B-sides as bonus tracks—including three tracks ("The Conflict", "The Marauders" and "Broken Revisited") from the The Hurting period. In addition to these tracks, it includes two remixes.

The album was re-released again in a deluxe edition 2-disc format in 2006 with the full collection of B-sides and many alternate versions and remixes of the album's tracks.

Track listings[edit]

Original release[edit]

No. Title Writer(s) Length
1. "Shout"   Roland Orzabal, Ian Stanley 6:32
2. "The Working Hour"   Orzabal, Stanley, Manny Elias 6:30
3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"   Orzabal, Stanley, Chris Hughes 4:10
4. "Mothers Talk"   Orzabal, Stanley 5:09
5. "I Believe"   Orzabal 4:53
6. "Broken"   Orzabal 2:38
7. "Head over Heels/Broken (Live)"   Orzabal, Curt Smith 5:01
8. "Listen"   Orzabal, Stanley 6:48
  • "I Believe" is dedicated to 'Robert Wyatt (If he's listening)'[6]
  • In some US editions, the live reprise of "Broken" was omitted, and the end of "Head over Heels" led directly into "Listen". On these same US editions, the full 5:06 version of "Mother's Talk" was replaced with the 3:53 short version.
1999 remastered CD bonus tracks
No. Title Writer(s) Length
9. "The Big Chair"   Orzabal, Smith, Stanley, Hughes 3:21
10. "Empire Building"   Smith, Orzabal, Stanley 2:52
11. "The Marauders"   Orzabal, Stanley 4:16
12. "Broken Revisited"   Orzabal 5:16
13. "The Conflict"   Orzabal, Smith, Stanley 4:05
14. "Mothers Talk" (U.S. remix)   4:13
15. "Shout" (U.S. remix)   8:02
  • "Head Over Heels/Broken (live)" is erroneously listed as "Head over Heals/Broken (Live)" on the remastered CD.
  • "Mothers Talk" (U.S. remix) on the remastered CD is the correct version of this remix, but has had additional reverb applied to it. The 1999 remaster is the only CD on which this "extra reverb" version can be found.

Deluxe edition (2006)[edit]

Disc one[edit]

  1. "Shout" – 6:33
  2. "The Working Hour" – 6:31
  3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" – 4:11
  4. "Mothers Talk" – 5:06
  5. "I Believe" – 4:54
  6. "Broken" – 2:38
  7. "Head over Heels/Broken (live)" – 5:02
  8. "Listen" – 6:54
  9. "The Working Hour" (piano version) – 2:08
  10. "The Marauders" – 4:16
  11. "Empire Building" – 2:52
  12. "The Big Chair" – 3:21
  13. "Pharaohs" (single version) – 3:43 (Orzabal, Smith, Stanley, Hughes)
  14. "When in Love with a Blind Man" – 2:22 (Orzabal, Stanley)
  15. "Sea Song" – 3:51 (Robert Wyatt)
  16. "Broken Revisited" – 5:16

Disc two[edit]

  1. "The Way You Are" (7" version) – 4:49 (Orzabal, Smith, Stanley, Elias)
  2. "Mothers Talk" (short version) – 3:53
  3. "Shout" (edit) – 4:03
  4. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (7" version) – 4:08
  5. "Head over Heels" (David Bascombe 7" Mix) – 4:15
  6. "I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)" – 4:41
  7. "Mothers Talk" (U.S. remix) – 4:13
  8. "Shout" (U.S. remix) – 8:02
  9. "Shout" (Dub Remix) – 6:49
  10. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" (Urban Mix) – 6:06
  11. "Mothers Talk" (Beat of the Drum Mix) – 8:54
  12. "Broken/Head over Heels/Broken" (Preacher Mix) – 8:00
  • Track 4 was intended to be "Everybody Wants to Run the World" but was mistakenly replaced by a repetition of the album version (incorrectly labeled as the '7" version', but such a version does not exist); the album's liner notes confirm this.
  • Track 7 is labeled "U.S. remix" on the packaging but is in fact a different version from the real "Mothers Talk" (U.S. remix) on the original vinyl singles. On CD, the real "U.S. remix" can be found on the compilations The Millennium Collection: The Best of Tears for Fears and Shout: The Very Best of Tears for Fears.


Tears for Fears
Additional personnel

Charts and certifications[edit]


Chart Country Provider(s) Peak
Certification Sales
UK Albums Chart[7] United Kingdom BPI 2 3× Platinum[8] 900,000
Austrian Albums Chart[9] Austria IFPI Austria 22
Canadian Albums Chart[10] Canada CRIA 1 7× Platinum[11] 700,000
Dutch Albums Chart[citation needed] Netherlands NVPI 2 Platinum[12] 100,000
French Albums Chart[citation needed] France SNEP 12
German Albums Chart[citation needed] Germany IFPI Germany 1 Gold[13] 250,000
New Zealand Albums Chart[14] New Zealand RIANZ 2
Norwegian Albums Chart[15] Norway IFPI Norway 17
Swedish Albums Chart[16] Sweden IFPI Sweden 25
Swiss Albums Chart[17] Switzerland IFPI Switzerland 5
US Billboard 200[18] United States RIAA 1 5× Platinum[19] 5,000,000


Year Single Chart Peak
1984 "Mothers Talk" UK Singles Chart 14
Irish Singles Chart 23
1985 New Zealand Singles Chart 50
1984 "Shout" UK Singles Chart 4
1985 Austrian Singles Chart 6
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 1
French Singles Chart 21
German Singles Chart 1
Irish Singles Chart 5
Norwegian Singles Chart 5
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
Swedish Singles Chart 16
Swiss Singles Chart 1
US Billboard Hot 100 1
1985 "Everybody Wants to
Rule the World"
UK Singles Chart 2
Austrian Singles Chart 19
Canadian Singles Chart 1
Dutch Singles Chart 2
French Singles Chart 18
German Singles Chart 11
Irish Singles Chart 2
New Zealand Singles Chart 1
Swiss Singles Chart 13
US Billboard Hot 100 1
Year Single Chart Peak
1985 "Head over Heels" UK Singles Chart 12
Canadian Singles Chart 8
Dutch Singles Chart 29
German Singles Chart 55
Irish Singles Chart 5
New Zealand Singles Chart 12
US Billboard Hot 100 3
1985 "I Believe
(A Soulful Re-Recording)"
UK Singles Chart 23
Irish Singles Chart 10
New Zealand Singles Chart 28
1986 "Mothers Talk" (US remix) Canadian Singles Chart 87
US Billboard Hot 100 27
Preceded by
No Jacket Required by Phil Collins
Reckless by Bryan Adams
Billboard 200 number-one album
13 July 1985 – 3 August 1985
24 August 1985
Succeeded by
Reckless by Bryan Adams
Brothers in Arms by Dire Straits


  1. ^ a b Swihart, Stanton. "Songs From the Big Chair - Tears for Fears". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  2. ^ "Tears For Fears - Songs from the Big Chair CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  3. ^ Christgau, Robert (28 May 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (Village Voice Media). Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  4. ^ Shewey, Don (23 May 1985). "Tears for Fears: Songs From the Big Chair : Music Reviews". Rolling Stone. Wenner Media. Archived from the original on 21 November 2007. Retrieved 23 October 2009. 
  5. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  6. ^ 'Song from the Big Chair' Vinyl Record (1985)
  7. ^ "British Tears for Fears chart positions". Archived from the original on 30 July 2012. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  8. ^ "British certificates: searchable database". BPI. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  9. ^ "Austrian Tears for Fears chart positions". Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  10. ^ "Canadian Songs from the Big Chair chart positions". RPM. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  11. ^ "Canadian certificates: searchable database". CRIA. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  12. ^ "Dutch certificates: searchable database". NVPI. Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  13. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank ('Songs from the Big Chair')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. Retrieved 27 February 2010. 
  14. ^ "New Zealand Tears for Fears chart positions". Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  15. ^ "Norwegian Tears for Fears chart positions". Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  16. ^ "Swedish Tears for Fears chart positions". Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  17. ^ "Swiss Tears for Fears chart positions". Retrieved 23 December 2009. 
  18. ^ "American Tears for Fears album positions". Retrieved 28 December 2009. 
  19. ^ "American certificates: searchable database". RIAA. Retrieved 28 December 2009.