Album: St. Elsewhere (2006)
Charted: 1 2


  • This song is about losing your mind and diving into insanity, which the Cee-Lo Green of Gnarls Barkley finds is not all bad. Speaking at a BMI conference, he explained the inspiration for the song: "It was '04, I was going through a divorce, I did not have a deal - things were bleak at the time and I was going through a personal trial. But it was an opportunity to be expressive. Danger Mouse's production compelled me into a deep retrospection, and I really appreciate him for that because with him, I knew that my misery had some company, because his music was so miserably brilliant and beautiful to me. It was the sound of my soul. If you could have taken a picture of it, it would have resembled this internal chaos."
  • Going along with the theme of the song, the music video is done in the style of the Rorschach test, a method of psychological testing whereby patients identify shapes and images they see in inkblots. It was directed by Robert Hales, who used an ink theme in the video for Jet's "Are You Gonna Be My Girl." In the clip, Cee-Lo and Danger Mouse appear throughout morphing inkblots, designed by art director Bryan Louie. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Donovan Berry - El Dorado, AR
  • Gnarls Barkley is producer Danger Mouse (Brian Burton) and vocalist Cee-Lo Green (Thomas Callaway). Danger Mouse produced The Gorillaz album Demon Days; Cee-Lo was in Goodie Mob. The name "Gnarls Barkley" is a play on "Charles Barkley," who is a Hall Of Fame basketball player and an outspoken commentator. The moniker came up in a conversation between Danger Mouse and some of his friends when they were throwing out weird ideas for band names.
  • In a 2006 interview with The New York Times, Danger Mouse said: "I brought in a song that I felt was a complete Ennio Morricone ripoff, (Morricone is a composer of spaghetti-western scores) but Cee-Lo and I started talking, and I somehow got off on this tangent about how people won't take an artist seriously unless they're insane. And we were saying that if we really wanted this album to work, the best move would be to just kill ourselves. That's how audiences think; it's retarded. So we started jokingly discussing ways in which we could make people think we were crazy. We talked about this for hours, and then I went home. But while I was away, Cee-Lo took that conversation and made it into 'Crazy,' which we recorded in one take. That's the whole story. The lyrics are his interpretation of that conversation."
  • This song was leaked on the Internet and became a very popular download when it was released in England, sending it to #1 on the UK charts.
  • In 2006, Danger Mouse told The Observer Music Monthly, "I did the initial backing track when I was in Iceland on holiday a couple of years ago. We put it on in the morning and by the time we left the studio that evening we had the whole song done." Cee-Lo Green added, "I thought 'Crazy' might be the song that Danger Mouse would write if he wrote songs. He played the instrumental track for me and I was just, 'Wow!' We put the track on repeat while we talked for two hours about sanity and its place in pop culture and the creative process., how it's associated with true artistry."
  • This was the best-selling single of 2006 in the UK, where it spent nine weeks at #1. At the end of 2007, it was the most downloaded song ever in the UK.
  • This was chosen by a panel of experts including Yoko Ono, Lil Wayne, Lars Ulrich plus critics and industry insiders as Rolling Stone's #1 song of the 2000s.
  • Cee-Lo Green explained to Mojo December 2010 why he believes this song proved to be so popular: "It rang true to a lot of my peers and fellow artists. Because the song was about insisting upon doing things my way, and the thin line between being crazy and being convinced that you're right."
  • Looking back on this song in 2016 (its 10th anniversary), Cee-Lo told Entertainment Weekly that they came up with the lyrics by listening to the music loop over and over in the studio and riffing on ideas. "We talked about rock stars and authenticity - about the Ozzy Osbournes, the Iggy Pops of the work, the Jim Morrisons," he said. "It just kind of affected the subconscious. I scribbled down the lyrics, and I did it in one take. I didn't think much of it at the time."
  • Gnarls Barkley actually removed "Crazy" from UK music stores after its ninth week at the top of the British charts so people would "remember the song fondly and not get sick of it."

Comments: 19

  • Aus from Berlin/ukI'm a classical music follower but this song has come to strike me as brilliant. This song works on multiple levels, as true art does.

    1) Theres the literal meaning, which the writers autobiographical comments back up: anyone who thinks they are in control of their lives is a fool when so many unconscious influences govern our actions.

    2), Given "1", people who call others crazy are fools who don't realise they are the same basically, just some peoples unconscious programming makes them act odd while for most it makes them conform, but neither case is being in control. Hence the line, "I think you're crazy, just like you".

    3) As others have said, it reflects how everyone is "mind controlled" one way or another (see "1" and "2"" above). But I don't buy the "conspiracy theory" of some mysterious cabal in control, everyone is part of the same whirlpool of unconscious influence and therefore even people who try to be in control are really in the same boat. We exist in a world of influence in which nobody and nothing is ever really in control.

    The words are minimal, to the point, elegant. What's more, unlike shed-loads of pop music, it does not rely on copying a classical tune for a base.

    The video was a brilliant idea, as the song itself is like a Rorschach test. We can read ourselves into it and interpretations reflect our thoughts just like that ink blot test.

    Personally, I was originally exposed to the song pumped repeatedly round a department store whenever I was in there. The riff was catchy. I didn't pay attention to it. Years later, when I was in the midst of a difficult time in my relationship with Berlin I had arrived back from the UK one night, unsure I should even be there. There was a busker singing it at the Warshauer Strasse U. An excellent performer as they usually are at that prime location for it. It was dusk over the city. Everything was blue. Instantly the Fernsehturm blinking in the distance, everything clicked. I was home again. It felt like destiny, as the song says: "Its no coincidence I've arrived, and I can die when I'm done".

    "Does that make me crazy...possibly".

    Since then I've listened to it repeatedly and written this, my first ever comment on a song.
  • Chet from Honolulu, HiI had never heard this song on youtube. It closed out the first video of the fictitious blogger, lonelygirl15. You can see the video here:
  • Luciano from Denver, CoSounds to me like the songs about government mind control, and how the populace has become stupid droning zombies, and he himself was once part of the droning mind controlled crowd until he broke free and got his mind back. I mean its nice being a mind controlled zombie, so nice that we all ask for it everyday!!!
  • Randy from Portage, Incee-lo's voice reminds me alot of Al Green's
  • Valerie from Eureka, CaI just LOVE the song maybe because I can relate to it in too many ways.
  • Marcus from Fresno, Cathe first time i saw the video for Crazy, i had just smoked from a vaporizer and i was tripping balls. this song is bad ass.
  • Brady from Niagara Falls, NyJust posted a comment on the first song I ever remember; "Linda" from 1947. From Sinatra to Lonnie Donegan to Elvis to Beatles, Hendricks,
    Joel, Madonna, U2 and now Gnarls...The beat goes on Thank You Song Facts for the joy you bring to my life.
  • Kristie from Hackettstown, NjThis song is very Zen. To be in a state that your "mind" does not control you--instead you control your mind is to be in a HIGHER state. Reading the lyrics from a Zen point of view, they aren't so crazy...
  • Roberta from Carleton, MiI agree with Dean of Sydney
  • Dean from Sydney,Great song. A glimmer of hope that tells me not to write off contemporary music all together.
  • Aimee from Ughville, MaIt's pretty much saying that the least sane people are the ones who think they're just fine.
  • Carol from Newport News, United StatesThe song can mean anything depending on their own experiences and state of mind. The lyrics are great!
  • Robert from Merced, CaI thought that this song was about about falling into street/drug culture as an adolescent. It just strikes me in that way.
  • Joe from Chicago, Arkool song.......the rest of the album isn't as good though in my opinion which is defintly a shame and a waist of 20 bucks on my part
  • Margaret from Buffalo Mills, PaI thought this was about soaring in a glider plane "out there, without a care, yeah I was out of touch." People think you're crazy for riding the air waves like an eagle in a plane with no engine, but I think you're crazy if you don't try it! I claim this song for the sail plane pilots of the world!
  • Bobodabanka from Paris, FranceThis song actually hit the top of the charts in France during last summer which was also when the french soccer team got in the world cup finals. I know it might sound 'crazy', but it is exactly what the french champion Zinedine Zidane could have said to the italian player Materazzi just after he hit him. Read the lyrics again, be my guest, and get inside a 'crazy' man's brain!
  • Johnny from Los Angeles, CaI always thought this was about a war veteran going crazy after what he saw.
  • Wik from Brooklyn, NyYes! Danger Mouse is getting to 'stack cheese', while EMI is getttting what they deserve for blocking the release of the 'Grey Album' a few years back.
  • Ryan from Austin, TxGreat song. Can't wait to see them @ ACL in Austin this year.
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Which Songs are About Drugs?Fact or Fiction

"25 or 6 to 4" to "Semi-Charmed Life" - see if you can spot the songs that are really about drugs.

Chris Fehn of SlipknotSongwriter Interviews

A drummer for one of the most successful metal bands of the last decade, Chris talks about what it's like writing and performing with Slipknot. Metal-neck is a factor.

The 10 Bands Most Like Spinal TapSong Writing

Based on criteria like girlfriend tension, stage mishaps and drummer turnover, these are the 10 bands most like Spinal Tap.

dUg Pinnick of King's XSongwriter Interviews

dUg dIgs into his King's X metal classics and his many side projects, including the one with Jeff Ament of Pearl Jam.

90s Music Quiz 1Music Quiz

First question: Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson appeared in videos for what artist?

Timothy B. Schmit of the EaglesSongwriter Interviews

Did this Eagle come up with the term "Parrothead"? And what is it like playing "Hotel California" for the gazillionth time?