Spiritual Experiences with Tears for Fears

Dedicated to all the spiritually focused fans of the band. You are seen and you are heard. This is also dedicated to Jack and Dawn Curry who have been absolutely angelic to so many fans, not only helping them get to shows but being best friends. Since day one, they have been helping everyone get through the hard times in life. We love them both, wherever they are!

Authored by the Moderator:

Spiritual experiences have been so prominent throughout my years of following Tears for Fears – so much so, it’s difficult to remain silent and not discuss it. I understand that some people want nothing to do with religion, prayers or the idea of a Higher Power. I respect that. But I also lean in when I hear other fans discuss the spiritual experiences they have had with Tears for Fears’ music. Note that I will use the term “G-d” in this post. There will be a definition guide and or reference below to help out with terminology used for this specific type of conversation.

What is a spiritual experience in music?

In 2019, a publication quoted a fan after the Tears for Fears performance at the Shaky Knees festival. The fan said, “I don’t know if that was Tears for Fears or G-d that I just saw.” Many comments similar to this surfaced and I certainly noticed it because I have felt that way for years. Not long after that show, Oleta Adams was in town with her band. I was quite certain that an angel or some spiritual being was going to show up in the middle of her performance. There was just something so powerful about that show – it didn’t feel earthly – instead otherworldly and heavenly for lack of a better term. We were packed in like sardines at City Winery for the event and despite the slight discomfort, it was such a glorious feeling that the entire crowd was swaying and crying like one might see in a genuine praise and worship service at a prayer centre, church or so. But why? What is the explanation behind the magnetic pull toward the band’s music and that of Oleta Adams? I have been trying to understand the euphoria and elevated feelings. It’s as if one’s soul is being lifted up out of one’s body, suspended in blissful space as each song plays. I’ve noticed this since childhood – and even more so in adulthood after attending their live shows annually. There’s no solid answer. Many of us have just come to the conclusion that they are “anointed” and this is the Tears for Fears experience.

Has Tears for Fears’ “energy” always been this way?

In my opinion, yes. I also learned that for many who encountered their music in the 80s and for some who learned about them in the 90s, the answer is the same. There has always been a glorious, magnetic and spiritual pull. Their shows are indescribable life events. Each person I’ve spoken to has been able to recount where they were and exactly what was going on at the time they heard Tears for Fears for the first time. Overall, 90% of those encounters were during some seriously difficult, and in some cases, life threatening times.

I first heard Tears for Fears with a Judeo-Christian Church

As I look back over my toddlerhood, the point in my life when I first heard the band was coincidentally in a Judeo-Christian church daycare van on the way to school. I was having a bad day at the young age of 6 because I was aware that my family was going through some seriously hard times. I was wearing a navy English pea coat that I hated and wondering when things would improve for my parents. I remember the church van pulled out of the parking lot and stopped at a red light that was on the hill just outside the church doors. The light was always long and we often had to wait two or three light cycles to get to the main thoroughfare – therefore one might hear an entire song play by the time we got on the actual road. I remember ‘Everybody Wants to Rule the World’ being on the radio as we waited entry to the main road. It had to have been late March because I was shocked that the weather was still so cold that it prompted my parents to force me to wear that hideous coat. I wanted to be like my American friends and wear bright neon jackets. But I came from a religious, conservative international community and our style was different. We were different and while I embrace my differences now, being different added to the stress of the time. But something changed as that song played in the church van. My legs were dangling off the seat and I was grooving along to this new sound on the radio that felt overwhelmingly comforting. At that moment, I suddenly felt grateful for that warm coat, felt a twinge of hope for my family and also the need to be patient as a better life for us unfolded. I became quite attached to what soon became the only secular music allowed in my religious environment. The spiritual seeds were officially sewn.

I have no idea if this is an actual church, but this is one of the many ways I was introduced to Tears for Fears as a child. It was in settings like this where music, that I guess the leadership felt was suitable, was shared with us in the praise service portion before the weekly teachings.

As a kid not even in double digits yet, I had no idea who Tears for Fears were (e.g. names, where they came from, etc.) but whenever I heard their voices or if their video was featured on one of those 80s compilation commercials, I would run to the TV and sing along (never did get the words right – “everybody wants to rock around…” that’s not right). I would touch the screen as Curt sang. I would touch the other side and put my hand on Roland’s head as he sang ‘Shout.’ I was so drawn to them. They were the sound of hope, of patience, of kindness…important parts of the fruits of the spirit as noted in religious texts. Then one fine day in school I looked in the back of the music history book and there they were! My teacher played Head Over Heels and I started screaming, “That’s the band! That’s them!! I’ve been trying to find them. You don’t understand! I need this music right now!” My mum allowed me to stay late at school so my teacher could get copies of the music for me. I learned their names and used my allowance to buy all their cassettes and Cds. The years that followed were filled with serendipity as their music would always come on randomly when I was about to make a big decision in life. I remember going to the salon and taking Roland’s RATKOS picture with me for my first real hair cut and dye job, “Can you make my hair like this? Blue black…also I’ve never dyed my hair before. Do you think it will work?” I asked. Break It Down Again suddenly came on the loud speaker. I freaked out. Thankfully the man helping me with my hair was also a fan and sang along. Then he sang ‘Shout.’ There was also the time I was finishing up a junior media internship in Atlanta and the organisers of the educational program took us to Fox Theatre where Tears for Fears was said to have performed (they made it seem as if the band was there all the time). As we left, Everybody Wants to Rule the World came on someone’s cd radio. Ended up getting the media job fulltime some years later as a recent college grad and Everybody Want to Rule the World came on AGAIN, this time on the loud speaker of the atrium on my first full day of employment. I remember pausing and giving thanks – the very place I stood I would later meet a wonderful musician named Michael Roland Magno who was also a huge fan of the band. He and his beautiful wife, Meg, were with me at the 2017 show. It felt like Tears for Fears’ music was being used to comfort me throughout life.

Tears for Fears’ Music in the Synagogue

More recently, after numerous shows and events with the band and their family members in 2010 to 2012, I came back to Atlanta from Los Angeles and Vegas, feeling especially grateful and desiring to show my gratitude to G-d. I decided I would rededicate myself to my Jewish faith. I grew up within a Jewish, Christian and Islamic spiritual structure so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do this properly or if I should do it at all. Would it even matter? Well within the first week of Jan 2013, a brand new friend of mine of the same name who was not aware of my serious love for the band randomly said, “Come on, we’re going to *Shabbat. My synagogue is hosting a *Shabbat Shira. You should attend.” I was nervous for so many reasons. We walked into the synagogue that Friday night and the end of Mad World was playing… I was like, “You have got to be kidding me! You’re playing Tears for Fears!”

Congregation Bet Haverim later recorded this video in 2020. It’s their version of Mad World that they first sang in 2013.

I had never met these people before. I had not attended Synagogue anywhere in Atlanta and they didn’t know a “Tears for Fears fan” was coming. After the initial prayers, the team went immediately into a theatrical reenactment of the parting of the Red Sea and what song led them out as Pharaoh came after the Hebrews? Yep, Mad World! A guy lept to the microphone and started singing with passion and intention, “All around are familiar faces, worn out places, worn out faces…” Soon the entire music team was joining in and the musicians were full on with the drums as the congregation sang and swayed along (they did the original version, not Gary Jules.’) There I was, crying profusely on the 3rd row, shaking and feeling like I had received the biggest sign of my life. I wanted to scream, “I hear You G-d! I hear You!!!” I knew right then that I was headed in the best direction for my life. Returning to my Jewish spiritual roots was the right thing for me to do.

Fast forward to 2022, the High Holidays in my faith are in full swing. It’s the night before Yom Kippur, the most important night on the Jewish calendar and I’ve just sprained my arm from stress because I was in a tizzy trying to prepare for this 25 hour (yes, 25) fasting day where we have no food and no water. I had to break my fast this year to take medicine (which is allowed) because I was in so much pain I couldn’t do basic life functions. I’m also still recovering from some serious thyroid issues. Sipping that water and throwing down those pills, I felt like a failure. I began to question why I was even doing this and thought to leave the faith because I felt like I couldn’t follow through with anything. The year before I somehow forgot to take the day off work and found myself answering work email between prayers. Now, this year, I couldn’t even fast properly. I felt defeated, unorganised and ready to quit. I went to bed nearly in tears.

The next morning, I wake up and see Curt retweeted the video of the IKAR_LA featuring Hazan Hillel Tigay (of MOT) leading the congregation through the final hours of Yom Kippur with Mad World! There it was. There was the sign! I knew there was hope. I screamed, “I hear You G-d!” It’s so wild because just a few days before – during Rosh Hashanah – I had this vision of Roland and Curt holding a Shabbat service before a concert. I saw Curt in a *Tallit and wearing *tzitzit. I’m by no means trying to convert them to Judaism or pray them into any type of belief. But it was a vision of peace and the band sharing peaceful prayers with others…and then this happened!

So, what was it that we were looking at in the video? What is Yom Kippur?

In my faith, it is best that a spiritual leader explain everything. I don’t believe I’m ordained or anointed to explain what was happening in the video. But I will speak to it from my own personal experience in the faith (in a very elementary fashion). Every year around this time, September/October, we have the High Holidays. It begins with *Rosh Hashanah. Everyone wears white. White represents atonement, forgiveness, introspection and shedding away of bad habits and willful wrong doings as well as asking for forgiveness for things we don’t even know we did wrong but have hurt others. The white “hats” are kippahs or yarmulke and are worn by men. Women also can wear this and sometimes you’ll see a white lace fabric on women’s heads. In my faith and culture (I’m Nigerian), we cover our whole heads with a scarf. Not everyone does this and not every Nigerian is a Jew. In fact, most are Christian or Muslim. But Nigerian Jews do exist. There’s also a longer shawl called a Tallit. One will often see it worn around the shoulders. During Yom Kippur I’ve always noticed that most of the leadership and Rabbis will wear white ones. The rest of the year, the tallit that is worn is often white and blue. There’s a lot more to it and we can discuss that one day. During the ceremony of Rosh Hashanah there are many additional prayers that are read aloud – usually in a fashion that sounds like singing. There’s a reason for this and we can discuss it “offline” as one might say. All of our holidays begin at sundown and conclude at sundown the following evening. In this case, it was Yom Kippur which occurs 10 days after Rosh Hashanah first begins. As mentioned, it is the day we do not have food or water and use that time to pray, introspect and more. You may have noticed that one of the members of the congregation was touching his fist to his chest. This is part of the repentance – one gently beats the chest for each transgression listed. Learn more about that practice here.

In nearly all ceremonies, you will see a cantor, or someone singing and leading the prayers as well as the Rabbi. I’m not a member of the IKAR-LA congregation so I do not know who the cantor is but I believe that Hillel Tigay is the director of music there. What a fine and divine moment he led. I’m still saying Baruch HaShem every time I think about it! I do suggest you follow his work and music no matter what faith or religion you claim.

I’m not certain at what part in the Yom Kippur ceremony the congregation was on in this video. So I can’t really say more on this but as mentioned, Mad World was used in 2013 by Congregation Bet Haverim in Atlanta, Georgia as part of the Shabbat Shira. The band’s lyrics express the deep heart and soul of man’s “good” conscious in so much of their work. In my faith, we are taught to examine and question…get to the heart of matters and not follow blindly. Every Rabbi that I follow spends exponential time reading, studying and seeking guidance. The ones I know in Atlanta are also Tears for Fears fans. Rabbi Ryan Lambert even came to the June show. If I hear any of Tears for Fears’ music again in a synagogue or learn that other faiths use it, it would make sense to me. I find it absolutely fitting and appropriate. I’m thrilled that people can be enlightened by their music and find it essential or useful during spiritual moments of reflection. It’s important that we not rely on what we see on television as our only image or knowledge of faith. Just like we wouldn’t stereotype a person, we should not stereotype religions and expect media versions of them for ourselves. From Agnostics and Atheist to Zoroastrian beliefs, there is something one can learn. A lot of religion is not what we’ve been brainwashed to believe.

In 2019, about two months before Tears for Fears returned to Atlanta, I adopted an atheist way of life and thinking. I was angry about things in the world and felt, there’s no way there’s a Higher Power. I was done with all of this. I stopped praying altogether and whenever someone brought up prayer and seeking guidance, I rolled my eyes and rejected their comments. I went to the Tears for Fears show later on in May of that year with the same attitude. The day after the show, I experienced a supernatural event. The band was still in town and I remember one of their family members was nearby. Not wishing to appear as if I was “hanging around too closely,” I went back to my hotel room and took a phone call from the UK and…well, I won’t go into detail about it but it was revealed to me that I was wrong about my atheist beliefs. All kinds of things began to happen – revelations of all sorts began to take place. I learned that there is more beyond this life…a lot more. While I no longer agree with agnostics and their beliefs, I don’t think I could ever make an assumption about them or write them off. They are also on this journey of understanding. I hope that in seeing this peaceful ceremony of Yom Kippur that others will feel encouraged to read and understand faith. Do not let “man” or media make you decide what faith is…seek, for yourself, clarity and understanding for everything. Reach out, read and learn for yourself.

Throughout my time as a fan, I’ve witnessed and experienced really loud supernatural type things that have occurred in conjunction with the band’s music – especially during tours. Some are things that I’m not ready to share. I don’t know if I ever will. I’m not sure how to even discuss it. It already took me this long to discuss this. All the visitations and heavenly type encounters were peaceful experiences and loud confirmations filled with comfort. I met a lot of fans on tour who reported similar coincidences and noticed that the band’s music miraculously plays just as they are dealing with a life crisis or in the middle of making huge life changing decisions. Of course, we know Roland and Curt have nothing to do w/it. They aren’t sitting in their homes or on the tour bus with crystal balls looking at us then pressing play supernaturally on a stereo or radio station’s equipment. But are our guides and guardian angels leading us to these spaces to be there at just the right time? Who decided that a random January after the tour I would find myself in a synagogue crying with joy as people danced and praised G-d using Tears for Fears music? I don’t know but I look forward to continuing the connection to fans who are also finding spiritual solace in the band’s music.

Shavua Tov/Have a great week ahead! To the members of congregation IKAR-LA, Chag Semeach! Thanks for reading, feel free to leave a comment and connect with us on Facebook and Twitter. Happy to continue the conversation and perhaps gather for Shabbat or Jummah prayer with many of our fellow spiritual fans.

-Andye, Tears for Fears Travel Fan Moderator

Follow @tearsforfears @tearsforfearsmusic on IG, @curtsmith on all platforms, @therealoletaadams, @thereallaurenevans, @papasfans on Twitter and @tfftravelfans on IG

Terminology – these are not complete definitions. Please consult with a Rabbi or Chabad to get the full definitions and explanations of these terms and why they are important.

G-d – in my faith we do not write the name of our Higher Power with vowels. YHWH or G-d is the highest term used.

Anointed – blessed by a supernatural power or Higher Power with a gift to help heal.

Shabbat – a time of rest as noted in the Torah (holy book for Jews). It occurs on Friday evening at sundown and concludes on Saturday evening at sundown. Torah observant people of the faith will attend prayer ceremonies filled with gratitude and ancient recitations in a Synagogue.

Shabbat Shira – a Shabbat service including music and singing.

Yom Kippur – 25 hour fast in the Jewish faith – a time of repentance and reflection on one’s deeds.

Rosh Hashanah – the head of the year – a type of new year in the Jewish faith – the start of the High Holidays where Jews and Torah observant take time to get closer to the Higher Power through prayer, fasting and weeks of gratitude.

Tallit – a long body length shawl worn during services among Torah observant people and those of the Jewish faith

Tzitzit – tassels or fringe worn by Orthodox Jewish men as noted in the Torah

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