Dave Amitri on The Hurting
Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith were born two months apart in 1961. They met by chance as teenagers in Bath, began writing music together, formed a mod band who were huge in Spain and then thanks to a shared interest in the work of American psychologist Arthur Janov and his Primal Therapy, settled on the name Tears For Fears and set about making their debut album The Hurting, combining their childhood experiences with the theories of Janov. All before their 21st birthdays. Nothing new there, great music has always come from young artists. The subject matter however was unusual, especially in the heady, radio, TV and video friendly early 80s. Smith was the only one who went along with Orzabal’s Janov theories. That belief in him gave Orzabal the confidence to use what he’d read and expose his deepest, darkest thoughts on his unusual childhood in an incredibly personal collection of songs. The Hurting was originally released in 1983 (the first single Suffer The Children was released in October 1981)
On 12th May 2023 to celebrate its 40th anniversary, it will be reissued as an Abbey Road Half Speed Mastered vinyl and as a newly created Dolby Atmos mix by renowned artist and mixer, Steven Wilson. The Dolby Atmos mix, along with a 5.1 mix, an instrumental mix, the original album master and two previously unheard tracks )remixed versions of Mad World and Watch Me Bleed by Mike Howlett) will also be released as a limited edition standalone blu-ray disc exclusively via http://www.superdeluxeedition.com
This look at the album will come in two parts. Part one forms the review and will cover the familiar songs, new sound and the two remixes. Part two for those who are interested is a dive into Orzabal’s lyrics, Janov’s theories, how the two work together and how Orzabal and Smith view it all today.
The original album was produced by Chris Hughes (Merrick from Adam and The Ants) and it still sounds amazing. Smith and Orzabal were inspired musically by among others Peter Gabriel, in particular Gabriel 3: Melt. I’ve been listening to Melt and from the first 20 seconds of the first track, Intruder, the influence is clear. Not only on The Hurting but also the follow up Songs From The Big Chair. Bands from the early 80s being inspired by the 70s is nothing new. Usually however it’s Bowie, Roxy Music or T Rex. Tears For Fears being inspired by Peter Gabriel again marks them out as being different from their peers. If you’re a fan of Tears For Fears I recommend giving Gabriel 3 a listen, if you’ve previously not been sure about Tears For Fears this information may lead you to reconsider and take another listen.
For this release The Hurting has been remastered and I’m never quite sure why you would mess with the original when it’s perfect to start with but here we are. That said the new mix does sound incredible. The biggest difference to me appears to be the clarity of the vocals. Both Smith and Orzabal have beautifully emotive voices and you can absolutely hear every crack and feel the emotion in every word which adds to the listening experience. What this high quality sound also confirms is that musically Tears For Fears were able to combine the then cutting edge synth sounds of 1981 while also using traditional guitar, bass and drums to allow them to borrow from their prog and new wave heroes. It creates a unique sound that can leap from OMD to Talking Heads or Peter Gabriel in a single song.
The four singles are so well known that there is little that I can add. Suffer The Children, Mad World, Change and Pale Shelter are all just phenomenal records for any era. Heard on the album in 2023 it remains remarkable that kids lapped up this prog inspired therapy session dressed up as pop songs and danced along with Roland on Top Of The Pops. Peter Powell gurning among the balloons, ticker tape, crazy string and all the pzazz while Curt sang about the dreams in which he was dying were the best he’d ever had.
Away from the singles the mood darkens further. Other songs that weren’t released as singles, The Hurting, Ideas As Opiates, Memories Fade ( but the scars still linger), Watch Me Bleed, The Prisoner, Start Of The Breakdown all titles from inside Roland’s teenage mind. I cover some of the lyrics in depth in part two. What did pop loving kids who fancied Curt think? Regardless, it remains one of the great albums of the 80s that 40 years on still doesn’t receive the full recognition it deserves although I sense a changing tide regarding the band and specifically this album. It always sounded wonderful , here it sounds wonderful plus and becomes a must for the die hard fan and a worthwhile purchase for anyone who loves popular music and wants to be challenged as well as entertained.
The new Mike Howelett mix of Mad World is different enough to feel like a new listen. It sounds like a different Curt vocal and musically it goes from a drum and bass moment to Vince Clark era Depeche Mode keyboards without losing the original’s dark intensity. The crescendo building outro in particular is stunning.
Watch Me Bleed may be slightly less familiar to non fans but clearly Howlett had some fun with it here. It’s a dark song even for this album yet it’s given the full 80s musical treatment OMD keyboards, the most 80s of drum sounds it’s all in here and it’s brilliant. Well done Mr Howlett.
Overall if you’re a fan you’ll want this for the 2 new versions of 2 classic songs and to hear a 40 year old album given some tender loving care and a chance to relive it’s past. Sound familiar? I hope it encourages non fans to listen again to what is a really extraordinary collection of songs.
To set the scene how better than to hear from Roland Orzabal himself from a podcast with Rockonteurs from 2020. The whole conversation is more than worth a listen but for the sake of this piece and to set the scene it would help to listen from about 9 minutes 50 seconds in to about 22 minutes. It includes stories of strippers being trained in the family home, domestic abuse, primal therapy, when Janov met John Lennon and the boys love of Peter Gabriel among other things. I could have transcribed it but I’ll leave it to Roland. I find it completely absorbing and it will definitely help to understand what comes next. See you in about 15 minutes.
Rockonteurs – Roland Orzabal
OK, welcome back. I hope you found it as illuminating as I did. After that background I decided to research Arthur Janov further. A brief Google and the dots join very quickly. His basic theory is as follows.
Janov states that neurosis is the result of suppressed pain, which is the result of trauma, usually trauma of childhood origin. According to Janov, the only way to reverse neurosis is for the neurotic to recall their trauma in a therapeutic setting. Janov contends that the neurotic can thereby re-experience their feelings in response to the original traumatic incidents but can now express the emotions that at that time were repressed, thereby resolving the trauma. Janov believes that there is only one source of mental illness (besides genetic defects): imprinted pain. He argues that this unitary source of neurosis implies that there can be only one effective cure: re-experiencing
Basically we are all born our real selves. However incidents or Minor Primal Scenes as Janov calls them through childhood, starting with birth over time change us. Caused by poor parenting by neurotic parents, caused by poor parenting by neurotic parents in an unending sequence. Eventually at a moment Janov calls a Major Primal Scene we lose our real selves completely at which point neurosis sets in. An example cited by Janov is a drunk father humiliating his son on Christmas day by mocking his present in front of the whole family making the child realise that nothing he ever does for his father will be good enough to earn his love. Only during Primal Therapy can we begin to unburden and find our true selves.
With that in mind I went searching for Janov quotes and imagined how he may have reacted to Orzabal’s lyrics had he been presented with a young Roland and Curt in his consulting room. It didn’t take long for some startling links to appear. Some tenuous I’ll admit but some quite remarkable.
Could you understand a child
When he cries in pain?
Could you give him all he needs?
Or do you feel the same all along?
You’ve been told you’re wrong
When you felt it right
And you’re left to fight the hurting
“There is a huge burden of pain that the child must remove first, because it is not a matter of just forgiving. Feeling means going back and experiencing the exact needs of the child. You must feel the pain of the scene as it happened. You have to feel the earliest resentments, the need to be listened to and not criticized, to accompany them on their journeys, feeling part of them, knowing that you belong to your parents, what it means to experience everything about yourself , or feel the pain caused by the initial deprivation.”
Children waiting for the day they feel good Happy birthday, happy birthday
Made to feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher tell me what’s my lesson
Look right through me, look right through me
“For a few moments, treat the child as if he were the centre of our universe. All of that makes him totally happy.”
How can I be sure?
When your intrusion is my illusion
How can I be sure
When all the time you changed my mind
I asked for more and more
How can I be sure
When you don’t give me love (You gave me pale shelter)
You don’t give me love (you give me cold hands)
And I can’t operate on this failure
When all I want to be is
Completely in command
“The pain we experience when we don’t feel loved is as real as bodily pain. When emotional needs remain unsatisfied, they become real sensations of deep bodily discomfort, anxiety, depression, headaches, stomach aches, in short, out of focus fear. The dissatisfaction of needs is a threat to the integrity of the system; it becomes pain because it alerts us to the threats that this deprivation causes us.”
Ideas as Opiates
Say what you want
Say what you will
Cause I find you think what makes it easier
And lies spread on lies
We don’t care
Belief is our relief
We don’t care
“I am the shoemaker who sees only shoes in the world; being a therapist, I see only pain in humans. All scientists have to be careful of this because when we have a hammer, everything in the world looks like a nail.”
I cannot grow
I cannot move
I cannot fell my age
The vice like grip of tension holds me fast
Engulfed by you
What can I do
When History’s my cage
Look forward to a future in the past
The more I talk
The more I say
The less you seem to hear
I’m speechless in a most peculiar way
Your mind is weak
Your need is great
And nothing is too dear
For you to use to take the Pain away
No don’t pretend you can justify the end
Memories fade but the scars still linger
“The minds of fetuses and newborns are often seen as a ‘blank slate’ where nothing has been written or recorded, simply because they cannot speak. In our recent investigations we observe that the infant registers experiences of great impact, the fact that he is not able to describe or discuss these experiences has nothing to do with the effect he suffers from them. Later, when the person tries to put into words his early experiences, he will live all kinds of false perceptions and strange ideas, because he could not express them when his unconscious prevailed.
Suffer the Children
And it seems so strange
That at the end of the day
Making love can be so good
But the Pain of birth
What is it worth
When it don’t turn out the way it should
“We now know that birth trauma is actually encoded and stored in the nervous system. Give a child a good birth (if at all possible, no drugs to the mother) and a good first three years, especially a good first three months, and a major part of the job of child rearing is done.”
Watch me Bleed
I’ll make no noise I’ll hide my pain
I’ll close my eyes I won’t complain
I’ll lie right back and take the blame
And try to tell myself I’m living
And when it’s all been said or done
Where do I go?
Where do I run?
What’s left of me or anyone
When we’ve denied the hurting?
“Feeling is the antithesis of pain…the more pain one feels, the less pain one suffers.”
You walked into the room
I just had to laugh
The face you wore was cool
You were a photograph
When it’s all too late
It’s all too late
I did not have the time
I did not have the nerve
To ask you how you feel
Is this what you deserve?
When it’s all too late
It’s all too late
You can change
Janov on John Lennon –
“The level of his pain was enormous … He was almost completely nonfunctional. He couldn’t leave the house, he could hardly leave his room … This was someone the whole world adored, and it didn’t change a thing. At the center of all that fame and wealth and adulation was just a lonely little kid.”
Here behind the wall
I feel so small
Breathing but not perceiving
Here anger is me
Love sets me free
Feeling and not believing
“When there is love we have the key antidote against neurosis, because the absence of love is the essential ingredient for neurosis to thrive.”
Start Of the Breakdown
Scratch the earth
Dig the burial ground
Sense of time would be easily found
Ten out of ten
For the ones who defend
Breakdown is a final demand
We stand firm with our head in our hands
As we love to to cry
Is this the start of the breakdown?
I can’t understand you
“Keeping feelings inside eventually will take its toll on one’s health. Repression is a constant force that wears the system down, resulting in, possibly, a shorter life span.”
Well, I don’t know about you but I feel drained. This has dragged up some feelings, not about my childhood which was reasonably straight forward but for my children who lived through some fairly dark days. Without knowing about Janov we have openly discussed some of the darker periods and I believe we all found it cathartic so maybe there’s something in the idea of reliving past trauma. I’ve started reading Primal Scream, it’s a hard read and while Janov’s treatment theories are way out there and haven’t ever been officially recognised I think he is absolutely right about how damaging childhood can be in the wrong parental hands. It can obviously help to confront past trauma but there are many layers to our mental health so one set of theories and treatments are not going to work for everyone. Whether rolling on your therapists floor screaming for your mummy as an adult is the answer I honestly can’t say. What I will say is if something doesn’t feel right seek professional medical help. When Tears For Fears made The Hurting mental health was fairly taboo and we all generally had to deal with it ourselves, we certainly weren’t encouraged to share our feelings or discuss how we felt or indeed shout, shout, let it all out… It just makes this album all the more remarkable. Over 40 years ago Janov’s theories encouraged Roland and Curt to create a pop album that confronted their demons. Now, we can all, in a more open environment, be more honest and discuss our feelings. Hopefully we can also recognise just how unique and special The Hurting is. Especially in a Dolby Atmos Mix. I’m being glib obviously, mental health is hugely important and who knew a 40 year old album could get us all thinking about our own and how our childhood may or may not have affected it.
Blimey, it was only meant to be an album review. I’ve loved Tears For Fears since I first heard Mad World. I knew they were different but I’ve learned over the years that they are really very special. This deep look into this extraordinary album has elevated it to even greater heights for me. I’ve often said Orzabal is a genius, a tortured genius. Smith’s belief in him, his support, his faith gave him the confidence to let us into his world. How to sum it all up ? I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take. When people run in circles, it’s a very, very mad world, mad world….
It occurred to me that what the world actually needs is an Arthur Janov remix of The Hurting. So using the title track and an old version of Windows Media Player I created this. It’s no Two Tribes Annihilation Mix but I think it works. I’m off for a lie down and a good scream….
The Hurting – Arthur Janov (Let It All Out) Remx