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 New wave
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: 6 August 1984
  2. "Shout"
    Released: 23 November 1984
  3. "Everybody Wants to Rule the World"
    Released: 22 March 1985
  4. "Head over Heels"
    Released: 10 June 1985
  5. "I Believe (A Soulful Re-Recording)"
    Released: 30 September 1985

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".


"The title was my idea. It's a bit perverse but then you've got to understand our sense of humour. The 'Big Chair' idea is from this brilliant film called Sybil about a girl with 16 different personalities. She'd been tortured incredibly by her mother as a child and the only place she felt safe, the only time she could really be herself was when she was sitting in her analyst's chair. She felt safe, comfortable and wasn't using her different faces as a defence. It's kind of an 'up yours' to the English music press who really fucked us up for a while. This is us now – and they can't get at us anymore."

—Curt Smith explains the album's title, March 1985[1]

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".

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.

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars[2]
Melody Maker very favourable[3]
Q 3/5 stars (1999)[4]
Robert Christgau B[5]
Rolling Stone favourable[6]

Melody Maker said, "None of you should really be too surprised that Tears for Fears have made such an excellent album... [it's] an album that fully justifies the rather sneering, told-you-so looks adopted by Curt Smith and Roland Orzabal on the sleeve" before concluding, "An awful lot of people will, of course, go on and on about overcoats, The Lotus Eaters and an alleged lack of depth. And an awful lot of people will have to eat an awful lot of words."[3] 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."[2]

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".[7]


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)'[8]
  • 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 "Mothers 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]


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. ^ FitzGerald, Helen (9 March 1985). "On the Beach". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 20–21 & 29. 
  2. ^ a b Swihart, Stanton. Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair > Review at AllMusic. Retrieved 23 October 2009.
  3. ^ a b McIlheney, Barry (2 March 1985). "Review: Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Melody Maker (London, England: IPC Media): 23. 
  4. ^ "Tears For Fears - Songs from the Big Chair CD Album". CD Universe. Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  5. ^ Christgau, Robert (28 May 1985). "Christgau's Consumer Guide". The Village Voice (Village Voice Media). Retrieved 9 January 2012. 
  6. ^ 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. 
  7. ^ "The 100 Best Albums of the 1980s". Slant Magazine. Retrieved 24 August 2013. 
  8. ^ 'Song from the Big Chair' Vinyl Record (1985)
  9. ^ "Tears for Fears - Songs from the Big Chair" (in German). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  10. ^ "RPM 100 Albums, April 13, 1985". RPM, Vol. 42 No. 5 (Canada: Library and Archives Canada). Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  11. ^ "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  12. ^ "Top 100 Longplay, 25.03.1985". Top 100 Longplay (Germany: Media Control). Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  13. ^ "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  14. ^ "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  15. ^ "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  16. ^ "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  17. ^ "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Hung Medien. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  18. ^ "Tears for Fears | Artist | Official Charts". UK Albums Chart. The Official Charts Company. Retrieved 9 June 2014.
  19. ^ "Billboard 200, retrieved from "Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair" Awards at Allmusic". Billboard 200 (United States: Nielsen Business Media). Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  20. ^ "RPM's Top 100 Albums of 1985". RPM, Vol. 43 No. 16, p. 14, December 28, 1985. Canada: Library and Archives Canada. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  21. ^ "1985 Billboard 200 Albums". Nielsen SoundScan. Retrieved 9 June 2014. 
  22. ^ "Canadian album certifications – Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Music Canada. 
  23. ^ "Dutch album certifications – Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair" (in Dutch). Nederlandse Vereniging van Producenten en Importeurs van beeld- en geluidsdragers. 
  24. ^ "Gold-/Platin-Datenbank (Tears for Fears; 'Songs from the Big Chair')" (in German). Bundesverband Musikindustrie. 
  25. ^ "British album certifications – Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". British Phonographic Industry.  Enter Songs from the Big Chair in the field Search. Select Title in the field Search by. Select album in the field By Format. Click Go
  26. ^ "American album certifications – Tears for Fears – Songs from the Big Chair". Recording Industry Association of America.  If necessary, click Advanced, then click Format, then select Album, then click SEARCH