Sowing the Seeds of Love

Album: The Seeds of Love (1989)
Charted: 5 2

Songfacts®:

  • "Sowing the Seeds of Love" was a worldwide smash hit for Tears for Fears, second only to "Shout" and "Everybody Wants To Rule The World" for chart success. The song also charted in nine other countries besides the US and UK - most of those in the Top 10.

    The song is a throwback to '60s nostalgia (big in the late '80s) with a nod to The Beatles and a kind of Flower Power philosophy to it, including political lyrics starting with "High time we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man" and ending with "An end to need and the politics of greed."
  • Written by Roland Orzabal and Curt Smith, the lyrics in this song are a byproduct of Orzabal's interest in psychology and philosophy - he cites Sartre's Les Mains Sales and Arthur Janov's Primal Scream as literary influences. The song is a call to action, asking us to reject the status quo: "High time we made a stand and shook up the views of the common man."
  • The title was inspired by the English folk song "The Seeds Of Love," which Orzabal heard about on a radio program about folk tunes. As the story goes, Cecil Sharp (1859 - 1924), a noted scholar and collector of folk songs, overheard a gardener named John England humming the obscure tune as he mowed the lawn and persuaded him to recall the lyrics. The tale inspired Orzabal's own lyric, "Mr. England sowing the seeds of love."
  • Early on in the video, one visual effect shows the iconic symbol from the back of a US $1 bill, the pyramid with the glowing eye on top. This spooky-looking occult symbol is called "The Eye of Providence," and it goes all the way back to ancient Egypt (look up the "eye of Horus") and Buddhism; the Freemasons didn't grab onto it until the 1700s, so it is not original with them, as is commonly misconceived. Other religious symbolism includes spinning Buddhas and Egyptian Ankhs, plus a sort-of Pagan-looking sun. The stylishly produced video was cutting-edge for 1989, which didn't hurt its popularity a bit.

    Director Jim Blashfield picked up two MTV Music Video Awards, for Breakthrough Video and Best Special Effects (an award he won the previous year for Michael Jackson's "Leave Me Alone").
  • The lyric "I love a sunflower" was inspired by a piece of graffiti on a wall near Orzabal's home. "I see it every day. I didn't know what to sing on a guide vocal for the track so I sang that instead of 'dada dada dada,'" he explained. "Then all of a sudden, 'Sowing The Seeds' is just about to come out and the Ecology Party do really well in the Euro-elections and their emblem is the sunflower. I didn't know that, it all seems to be fitting in now. These things are synchronous."
  • Orzabal on the criticism that "Seeds" is a naive song: "I don't have any problem with naivety. People, especially in England, have a tremendous problem with vision and creativity because it's intangible and because they may not themselves be able to materialize their vision, to earth their vision. So I don't have a problem with naivety or the archetype of love because from writing to recording, I'm turning the intangible into the tangible. So if something's naive and full of hope, then if you can make it happen it's fair enough."
  • The UK-based Harmony Magazine sniffed of Tears for Fears in their Encyclopedia of Rock: "Pretentious pop duo who, on reflection, may be no more than the Peter & Gordon of the '80s." History has been somewhat kinder, magazine editors with an ax to grind notwithstanding.
  • The line "Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?" takes aim at Margaret Thatcher, a staunch conservative who was about to serve her third consecutive term as British Prime Minister.
  • Musically and lyrically complex, this evokes some of the more experimental Beatles songs of the late '60s. "With 'Sowing The Seeds Of Love' we felt it was sufficiently different for us to release as a single," Curt Smith told Outlook magazine. "People can say it sounds like 'I Am The Walrus' or whatever, but in sound quality alone it's miles ahead of anything like that."

Comments: 8

  • Sweet As Candy from DallasI think Curt and Orzabel and Ian were very sexy too!! They were so creative! Love sowing the seeds, shout and everybody wants to rule the world!
  • Alasun from UtahI was born 1981 and I love this song, plus it goes with my name ALASUN. My creative dad spelled it to name me after the Sun! I love ALL the songs from Tears for Fears, love Roland, Curt, Ian, etc. So sexy!
  • Gary from LondonThis was the first CD I purchased.
    This song still gets played loud whenever it's in the radio.
    Love this track.
  • Hoser from Land Of LincolnRoland once referred to this as their "I Am The Walrus". The band's last hurrah before Roland and Curt parted company in a highly acrimonious break-up.
  • Stephen from New York, NyAn absolute stereo reference recording. If your equipment is good enough, the bass drum is bottomless. Don't discount the fantastic vocals.
  • Anne from Sanilac County, MiThe lyric, "Kick out the Style, bring back the Jam." is a bit of snark aimed at Paul Weller, who had disbanded The Jam and formed The Style Council. Roland, like many Brits, preferred the former.
  • Martin from Oxford, United KingdomThe line in this song "Politician granny with your high ideals, have you no idea how the majority feels?" is supposed to be a reference to British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
  • Joe from Grants Pass, OrColor me lame, but I love this song !
see more comments

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