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Woman in Chains by Tears For Fears

Posted on the 02 September 2022 by Melodicwisdom

Though I did not recognize the beauty of this song in my younger years, I have grown to love it as an adult. Everything about it - Roland's voice, Oleta's voice, the music, the lyrics. It radiates emotion.

Woman in Chains was released in 1989 from Tears for Fears' third album, The Seeds of Love. Roland has provided somewhat layered responses over the years as to what inspired the song.

In an interview with Melody Maker, a British music magazine, Roland says:

"I was reading some feminist literature at the time, and I discovered that there are societies in the world still in existence today that are non-patriarchal. They don't have the man at the top and the women at the bottom. They're matricentric-they have the woman at the center, and these societies are a lot less violent, a lot less greedy, and there's generally less animosity... but the song is also about how men traditionally play down the feminine side of their characters and how both men and women suffer for it.... I think men in a patriarchal society are sold down the river a bit-okay, maybe we're told that we're in control, but there are also a hell of a lot of things that we miss out on, which women are allowed to be"

In another interview with the Washington Post in 1990, Roland also says, "When I sing 'Woman in Chains,' I'm singing about the oppression of women around the world, but I'm also singing about the repression of the female anima within myself, and I'm also singing about my mother. At the end, when I sing, 'Free her,' I'm also saying, 'Free me.'"

Then, in 2021, Louder Sound interviewed Roland and asked about the song again. This time he said,

"Um... it was really about my mother. At one point in her life, she was a stripper. My father and she ran an entertainment agency from a council house in Portsmouth. So she would go out to strip, and my father would send a driver out with her to spy on her. If she talked to another man, when she came back, he would beat her up. So it's about domestic abuse."

A couple interesting side notes about this song is that Phil Collins is playing on drums. Oleta Adams, the female on this track, was discovered by Tears for Fears when she was performing at a show in Kansas City. She went on tour with them in 1990, and it helped revitalize her musical career.

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