Listen Like Thieves
by INXS

Album: Listen Like Thieves (1985)
Charted: 46 54
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • In this song, INXS frontman Michael Hutchence asks us not to believe everything we read and hear. Discerning the truth takes vigilance, and it's all in our hands. By this time, Hutchence had a good feel for the media and understood their powers and limitations. As a rock star, he saw how he was processed for consumption, which was fine for entertainment, but not when it comes to news and politics. To get the real story, listen like thieves.
  • Hutchence wrote this song with band members Andrew Farriss and Garry William Beers. In a 2020 Songfacts interview with Farriss, he talked about the phrase "listen like thieves" and the meaning behind the lyrics. "Michael put that string of words together," he said. "Someone said to me recently that it sounds like a British poet from back in the 19th century. But that particular string of words is not a modern vernacular."

    Farriss added: "I think it's a very clever phrase to use for a song because through the generations there has been a constant struggle within most cultures to feel like you're controlling your own destiny within the government. I think that was part of what Michael's lyric was: The idea that the media haven't been great watchdogs, and that it is important that there are people who champion the truth. I think that's really what he was getting at."
  • This was the title track and last single from the fifth INXS album, which found them developing an international fanbase thanks to the lead single, "What You Need." "Listen Like Thieves" suffered because it didn't get a video - the band was very photogenic and did very well on MTV. Still, the song charted in both the US and UK at a time when they were not yet well known in those territories. That changed with the release of their next album, Kick, in 1987.

Comments: 2

  • Moilanen from FinlandKatie, I noticed the same thing. The Mad Max/Escape From NY style video definitely came out, when the single was released. There were other videos too (What You Need, Kiss The Dirt), so I have no clue what writer of this review means.
  • Katie Campbell from Greenville ScJust asking..there is a video for Listen Like Thieves. And it's awesome. This article says there wasn't a video and that hurt the song. Did the video with Richard Lowenstein come out later? Thx much ~K
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