Suffer the Children (song)

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"Suffer the Children"
TFF Suffer The Children.jpg
Single by Tears for Fears
from the album The Hurting
B-side "Wino"
Released 2 November 1981
19 August 1985 (re-issue)
Format 7", 12"
Recorded 1981
Genre New wave, synthpop
Length 3:36 (7" Version)
3:53 (Album Version)
Label Phonogram Records
Songwriter(s) Roland Orzabal
Producer(s) David Lord (7" Version)
Chris Hughes, Ross Cullum (Album Version)
Tears for Fears singles chronology
"Suffer the Children"
"Pale Shelter (You Don't Give Me Love)"
"Suffer the Children"
"Pale Shelter (You Don't Give Me Love)"

"Head Over Heels"
(1985) Head Over Heels1985

"Suffer the Children" (second release)
(1985) String Module Error: Match not found1985

"Pale Shelter (You Don't Give Me Love)"
(third release)
(1985) Pale Shelter (You Don't Give Me Love)1985

"Suffer the Children" is a song by the British band Tears for Fears. Written and sung by Roland Orzabal and released in November 1981, it was the band's first release, recorded in Bath, England shortly after the break-up of Orzabal and Curt Smith's previous band Graduate. The song would eventually be re-recorded for inclusion on Tears for Fears' debut LP The Hurting (1983).

Origins and production[edit]

Along with "Pale Shelter", "Suffer the Children" was one of two demo songs that landed Tears for Fears their first record deal with Phonogram in 1981.

"Suffer the Children" was the first song we did together when we left Graduate. It was our very first experimentation with sequencers and drum machines, with a guy called David Lord, who worked with Peter Gabriel and different people down in Bath. So that was actually the first song we did as Tears For Fears.

— Curt Smith[1]

The song's title bears resemblance to a passage in the Biblical book of Matthew (19:14), in which Jesus Christ teaches on the innocence of children. According to Orzabal:

...We were really big on this at the time - we really thought children were born innocent and good and holy... When you've got kids of your own, you realize how bloody difficult it is. But it's that kind of thing - saying look at what you're doing with your child.

— Roland Orzabal[1]

The song was later re-recorded by producers Chris Hughes and Ross Cullum for inclusion on the band's debut album The Hurting in 1983. This recording is distinct from the original 7" version by the subtraction of an extra Curt Smith-sung lyric at the beginning of the song. Both the original version and re-recording of the song notably feature Orzabal's wife Caroline on a "child vocal" during the bridge.[1]

Release and reissue[edit]

"Suffer The Children" was released as a United Kingdom-only single in both 7" and 12" formats. The 7" features the original recording of the song, while the 12" features both remix and instrumental versions. Both formats featured a short B-side, "Wino", which, minus synthesizers or production of any sort, was uncharacteristic of the band's body of work at the time. Despite being added to the playlists of influential Radio 1 disc jockeys John Peel and Peter Powell, the single failed to chart.[2]

In 1985, following the massive success of the band's second album Songs from the Big Chair, Phonogram Records reissued the single complete with a new variation of the original picture sleeve. Featuring the same formats and track listings as the original 1981 release, the single was moderately successful, barely missing the UK Top 50.

No music video was produced for the song.

All three original single variations of "Suffer the Children" (plus "Wino") remained unreleased on compact disc until the 30th anniversary reissue of The Hurting in 2013.[3]

Track listings[edit]

7": Mercury / IDEA1 (United Kingdom)

  1. "Suffer the Children" (3:36)
  2. "Wino" (2:17)

12": Mercury / IDEA12 (United Kingdom)

  1. "Suffer the Children [Remix]" (4:15)
  2. "Suffer the Children [Instrumental]" (4:26)
  3. "Wino" (2:17)

Chart positions[edit]

Year Chart Position
1985 UK Singles Chart[4] #52

Other appearances[edit]

Having often cited Tears for Fears as an influence in interviews,[5][6] British synthpop act La Roux incorporated "Suffer the Children" into their mix compilation Sidetracked in 2010.


  1. ^ a b c The Hurting (1999 Remastered Edition) (CD). Mercury Records. 1999.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help);
  2. ^ Wallace, Wyndham (20 September 2013). "This Is Going To Hurt: The Mad World Of Tears For Fears’ Debut LP". The Quietus. Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  3. ^ The Hurting (30th Anniversary Edition) (CD). Mercury Records. 2013.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help);
  4. ^ Official Charts Company. "TEARS FOR FEARS - Artist - Official Charts". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  5. ^ Hebbelthwaite, Phil (12 July 2009). "Interview: La Roux". Retrieved 2014-06-24. 
  6. ^ Turner, Luke (18 June 2009). "La Roux Interviewed: In For The Kill With Elly Jackson". Retrieved 2014-06-24.