"Head Over Heels" by Tears For Fears

written and interpreted by Kris Caballero (March 17, 2017)



Album Artist Song Album Track Number Year
Song From The Big Chair Tears For Fears "Head Over Heels" #7 1985
For the record, I will admit this: I loved this song so much, I listened to this for 3 weeks straight placing this song on REPEAT ONE on my CD player (back when CD players were the devices we listened to music on). I first heard this song on the radio station FM 98 & 99 - The Highway Stations as a kid during a family trip to Las Vegas, Nevada. Over the years as I reached my teenage years, it took a few days until I finally found out the song title and the artist. Thus, I became an avid TFF fan just like that.
"I wanted to be with you alone
and talk about the weather
but traditions I can trace against the child in your face
won't escape my attention
You keep your distance with a system of touch
and gentle persuasion
I'm lost in admiration could I need you this much
Oh you're wasting my time
You're just wasting time"
The third line in this first verse is possibly the most unique way of telling a girl she's so beautiful, you can't take your eyes off her.

Alright, I'll spell it out: when you "trace traditions against the child in [her] face," you're very much saying how adorable she may have been as a child, growing into a mature, perfectly-crafted woman she is today. You know how you stare at someone's picture(s) and you envision how they may have been as a child, and how they may look in the future, surviving through Life's obstacles and is able to express their beauty in such way? The line is quite deep but amazing since I feel it's too direct and bland to just say "you're so beautiful to me." Nicely written line.

Lines 5 and 6 simply states that she's playing hard to get, hence keeping her distance and a gentle persuasion.

Line 8 isn't what you think. Because this game of 'hard to get' isn't generating a response, his time is wasted. However, it's said so in an admirable way. We've been there before, when mixed signals make your mind boggle and feel your time figuring it out won't get repaid. In this case, the odds are in his favor and she's possibly flattered but at a loss for words.

Now the famous chorus:
"something happens and I'm head over heels
I never find out till I'm head over heels
Something happens and I'm head over heels
Ah don't take my heart
Don't break my heart
Don't throw it away"
Saying "I'll never find out till I'm head over heels" ought to tell you the vagaries and dilemmas of being in love. How do you know someone loves you? Someone has to come out and express it, right? When they do, do you love this person in return? Perhaps more convincing is needed? (This may be the biggest drawback/challenge to those humans who are in relationships with automated machines, also known as robots.) It's all biology—the male builds a hut, makes himself attractive/strong being the alpha man fighting to gain better advantage over the other males, in order to impress the female(s) whom she finds is worthy of mating with. In short, we do all this work for you, ladies.

A little free advice: women want men, not cry-baby, sissy wimps. I mean that....literally. Okay, moving on:
"I made a fire and watching it burn
thought of your future
with one foot in the past now just how long will it last
no no no have you no ambition
My mother and my brothers used to breathing clean air
and dreaming I'm a doctor
It's hard to be a man when there's a gun in your hand
oh I feel so..."
Lines 1 through 4 is simply talking to the girl and getting to know her and her life plans. It other words, when you make a fire and watch it burn, thinking of someone's future, it feels like a campfire date—you're sitting, staring at the flames and aimlessly talk. In addition, he's on a date with her talking one on one.

His mother and brothers "breathing clean air" seems to be an expression stating that his family grew up in a modest, "middle-" or "upper-class" neighborhood where the air was clean and natural without any financial struggles or job stability, living in harsh environments. He continues on saying that his family hopes to continue their positive reputation hoping he'll become a doctor—one of the highest paid professions in the world. No matter the struggles our parents/guardian(s) underwent, they all hope to push us to live a better life with a strong future; That's all that's being said there.

According to a fan, "it's hard to be a man when there's a gun in your hand" claims that having a gun was a a sign of manhood, most portrayed often in classic western films. While that's a possible interpretation, I feel the gun in the hand is a metaphor to protect against the detractors or "supernatural tragedies" that may interfere with his love for this woman. He has no problem being a man, even with a gun in his hand, but it's difficult given how he's feeling. Thus the verse ends with "oh I feel so..." which should tell you what Love has done to him. It's a crazy feeling, but it feels good doesn't it? Ask the couples who have been happily married for over 20 years.

Next comes the most interesting part of the song:
"And this is my four leaf clover
I'm on the line, one open mind
This is my four leaf clover"
Believe it or not, the album single for this song featured a four-leaf clover as an icon to market this song. Granted it wasn't because of St. Patricks Day or anything, but because of these lyrics in the song. There, now you know.

The fact he repeats that he has this four-leaf clover twice meant that because his love and admiration made him feel the way he feels, he's at a state where he's melding his entire self to pair up with this woman he truly loves. Reminding us that he's "on the line, one open mind" says that he's on a level where his heart, or perhaps even his life, is all being placed on the table to invest his soul being with this wonderful girl. To sum that up, he holds on to a four-leaf clover—a symbol of endless good luck hoping everything he's imagined since he glanced at her goes well.

You know how after going on several dates, the person finally tells you how they feel about you, and you want to make sure to keep your options open "just in case?" That's the feeling he got, but is confident that's she's the one he's looking for and is sure of it. Judging by these lyrics since the start of the second verse, the woman isn't complaining, so she enjoy his company the entire time. Don't you love a happy ending?

Hold that thought because the song ends with these words:
"In my mind's eye
One little boy one little man
Funny how time flies"
According to Roland:
"It was the oldest song on the second album and we had been messing with it for ages. It is basically a love song and one of the most simple tracks that Tears For Fears have ever recorded. It is a love song that goes a bit perverse at the end."
A bit perverse at the end, huh? "My mind's eye" describes the "back" of his mind and how he visualizes, or overall sums it up in his imagination, the relationship he just developed with this woman. Then he says "one little boy, one little man." If you're a human in a relationship, what do you do together that makes you go from a boy/girl into a man/woman? The answer isn't hard, and no, it's not doing drugs when you're with each other.

Possibly the most central part that sums up the feeling of being in love is said with the lyric "funny how time flies." If you watched the official music video for this song (shown above), you see Roland and his woman grow old together. There you go: time flies when you're in love.

Granted, the interpretations for this song spans so many other assumptions and questions turning the discussion into a deep, philosophical topic. However, since I personally am an optimist, this song has nothing negative to say about innocently courting a woman he met and suddenly feeling a strong connection with. It's a simple love song written in a linguistic, yet positive way, and it works.

As for the video, it may interest you to know that the promo was shot in May 1985 at Emmanuel College Library in Toronto, Canada. That chimp's name is Zippy, who, according to TFF fans, received the highest pay for the video.

This song was also a soundtrack to the hit film Donnie Darko. The band New Found Glory made an alternative/rock cover of this song.

I can't stress enough of how much I truly love this song. This is a superb classic that made TFF who they are. Want to catch my 100% undivided attention? Play this song.

What is your interpretation of the song? Tell us in the comments below!