Let’s take a trip back to 1982. I was 7 years old and had been swimming competitively for about a year and a half already. If you’re an athlete you know you need your psych up music to get you ready for your race. Yes, I know, I was that competitive that early. It’s genetic. I can’t help it.
Now, I was a strange child and the 80’s were a strange time, but I still get an adrenaline rush when I hear the songs, that for one reason or another, became race anthems. One such song was Mad Word by Tears for Fears. It was the perfect rhythm for the 100 yard backstroke, and I remember singing it in my head for years every time I swam. I associated this song with the positive side of “Mad”. Maybe it was the 80’s mod synthesized drum or the horn section, but I never thought of the lyrics as being dark. Life as a 7-year-old is full of fun and I think we are just starting to shape our musical tastes at that point. Seeing the good in the slightly bizarre or “crazy” was my specialty.
Almost 20 years later, in a very different state of my life, I would be watching the film Donnie Darko and a version of this same song would haunt me. Slowed down, much darker, this was a totally different realization of the song, where the lyrics became heavy, and sad, and almost frightening. I identified with this version for entirely different reasons. I found once again this song to be deeply entwined in the soundtrack of that year, a year spent unemployed (which perhaps is what made me think of it today), struggling personally and emotionally, and feeling a bit like I was moving in slow motion. It was if this song knew it needed to come back into my life to let me know that moments would pass. The good ones, the bad ones. They would all pass. Everything is temporary. And so, two sides…
Heads: The original Tears for Fears version…Catch Tears for Fears at the Mountain Winery September 9th.
Tails: Gary Jules and his one hit wonder, with a video that is stunning!
Bonus: And just for fun, a third side of the coin. From Adam Lambert of American Idol fame, who was born the year the original came out.
I have to say, at first I thought he really had no business doing this song, but it grew on me as a kind of happy celebration of the dark moments. A kind of middle ground for this song. Plus, blue light he is drowning in, reminds me of the pool.