This song is about a depressed young person who feels out of place in this world. He sees life as being empty, and looks for ways to escape the pain. The lyrics, "The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had" suggests thoughts of suicide, as he just wants the pain to end. (thanks, B.G. - maryville, TN)
This was Tears for Fears' first ever UK hit. It was produced by Chris Hughes, a former drummer with Adam and the Ants.
Gary Jules covered this for the 2001 movie Donnie Darko. The director Richard Kelly hoped to end the film with the U2 track "MLK," but he couldn't afford the rights. So composer Michael Andrews and childhood friend Gary Jules made a rough recording of this Tears for Fears song to see if Kelly thought it would be suitable. Kelly was so impressed that he used that same recording on the film.
Jules' cover was much slower and more melodic than the upbeat, dance tune by Tears for Fears, which some believe is more in keeping with the lyrics. Others believe the original to be ironic, and that this was lost in the Gary Jules version. (thanks, Jeffrey - Victoria, Canada)
Jules' version was the surprise UK Christmas #1 of 2003, holding off The Darkness and Ozzy & Kelly Osbourne. (thanks, George - Bristol, England)
The video for Gary Jules' version was directed by Michel Gondry (The Eternal Sunshine of a Spotless Mind). Speaking to AOL Music in 2011, Jules explained the clip was conceived wholly by the French director. "Working with him was humbling," he said. "So easy. What I loved about his vision was that he didn't try to tell you anything about how mad the world is. No news clippings, no snide quips or saccharine melodrama. No tanks, no soundbites, no politics. Just universal images, art, life. More powerful than any issue-oriented sentiment."
The song was recorded by Susan Boyle for her third album, Someone to Watch Over Me. She explained what the song means to her: "That's about social comment. It's as though your eye is a camera and you're looking outward and observing. It's a very surreal song."
Adam Lambert performed a memorable rendition of the Gary Jules version on Season 8 of American Idol, earning a standing ovation from the notoriously hostile Simon Cowell.