Sometimes a song just captivates our attention in the moment and catches us off guard. It speaks to us on a deeper level, beyond lyrics and obvious meaning. It’s often how we discover new music and develop an even greater appreciation for a previously loved artist. In this case, it was the latter.
I put on the B Side of my Tears For Fears Songs From The Big Chair LP and just let it play in the background, mainly because I wanted to hear “Head Over Heels” as I surfed the web. But as the last notes of “Head Over Heels” faded away, I was greeted with the sweetly hypnotic synth of “Listen.” Like a lover’s daydream, “Listen” snuck into my heart and made me woozy with adoration. I have listened to this album many times before, all the way through, but it was always just the soundtrack to whatever I was doing, with my attention mostly elsewhere. For whatever reason, today “Listen” made me do just that and I truly paid attention to the song.
“Listen” drifts lazily on and on, lingering on notes like kisses exchanged in secret. It’s a true lover’s song, providing a blanket of blissful sound for those long nights wrapped in an embrace or pining away for a lost love. Many layers of sound harmonize together to create a lullaby-like quality that soothes the soul. There are only two tiny verses that are sung in the first third of the song and their meaning is as mysterious as the melody itself.
Mother Russia badly burned
Your children lick your wounds
Pilgrim father sailed away
Found a brave new world
The rest of the lyrics are sung in Spanish by a small choir throughout the second half of the song and are difficult to understand, but some people think they hear:
Compleaños chica, no hay que preocuparse.
Don’t worry birthday girl. or Birthday girl, it’s not your fault.
Regardless of the meaning, it had me wondering where this song came from and why it’s not better known. In truth, it reminds me a lot of M83 and other dream pop/shoegaze artists of the modern era. There’s a definite direct influence there that was interesting to discover from such a seemingly straightforward 80’s band like Tears for Fears. I knew they were great songwriters, but “Listen” is on a different level of artistry that was completely unexpected. I feel like I have to go back and re-explore their discography now because surely there are other gems like “Listen” that I have yet to experience.
Listen for yourself below and let “Listen” speak to you too.