songs from the big chair

Say that you’ll never, never, never, need it
One headline, why believe it?
Everybody wants to rule the world.

Life has a soundtrack. Mine does at least. Moments, time periods, adventures, vacations… even moments of great happiness and deep hurt. I find that a song coming on the Pandora or one of my playlists can trigger memories and emotions.

I think, too, that most people have a song or an album that sticks out as defining in their lives. The Beatles’ White Album, Pink Floyd’s The Wall  or Michael Jackson’s Thriller. Mine was Tears for Fears’ Songs from the Big Chair. Let me take you back.

The soundtrack of my early life was primarily country music. Willie, Waylon Kenny, Dolly, Kris and Merle made up the majority of my parents’ music collection. Don’t get me wrong, there was also the entire Beatles’ catalog in there, too, but it was on vinyl and so wasn’t part of the playlist for family road trips in the Ford Econoline (shag carpet and all). At the time I had limited exposure to what would have been contemporary pop and rock music when I visited my mom at work where station Z93 FM was always playing.

That all changed in the summer of 1985.

We had made one of our regular drives up to visit my grandparents. I’m thinking it would have been in June before the heat, humidity and mosquitoes in Michigan got to be too unbearable.

One afternoon we found myself, as always, in the back room of my grandparents’ house. (It was a small bedroom off of the kitchen with easy access to the back yard and the freezer on the back porch where my grandfather kept his endless supply of fudgesicles). To clarify, “we” consisted of myself and three of my cousins- Heather, Danny and Adam. We always ended up grouped together as the oldest of the cousin lot and relatively close in age. In fact, Danny, Adam and I we’re all born within a 12 month timespan.

I digress.

That particular daly were were in the back bedroom listening to the stereo. Danny and Adam had just bought Songs from the Big Chair on cassette. I have no idea how many times we listened to it. It was brilliant. Shout*, Everybody Wants to Rule the World and Head Over Heels. Don’t ask 12-year-old me to pick a favorite. It was the first time an album actually spoke to me. I don’t really know why. I don’t know what about. I do know it connected in a way the countless singles I had bought before ever did.


*Shout would make a bit of a resurgence for me my senior year of college. It’s  part of my relationship with the guy who remains my best friend to this day. 

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