Tears for Fears were working on material for what would become their second album, 1985’s Songs from the Big Chair. Indirectly, Don Henley provided an important piece of inspiration.

As bassist and vocalist Curt Smith reveals, the band was in a familiar spot, where their record label was interfering with their creative process. “We were always being pressurized and we thought it was kind of ridiculous,” he shares in a new interview on the Naked Lunch podcast, which you can hear below. “Because we don’t like being [pressured] in the studio by the record company.”

Their debut album,The Hurting, helped establish them worldwide in 1983 -- but sales in the U.S. were softer than expected. “It was a cult hit here, a college hit, but it wasn’t a mainstream hit, Smith explains. “[As a result], we were constantly being pressured to do something more American that the Americans can embrace.”

Smith and his partner, guitarist and vocalist Roland Orzabel considered the suggestion as they were working on “Everybody Wants to Rule the World,” a song which Orzabel penned with Ian Stanley and the album’s producer, Chris Hughes. “We were like, what’s American? Driving songs," Smith remembers. Driving songs are American. What’s a driving song I know and love? ‘The Boys of Summer.’ So ‘The Boys of Summer’ was actually the influence for that.”

READ MORE: When Tears for Fears Were Forced Into a No. 1 Smash

The shuffling pace of “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” has an airy feel and a lightness to the overall tone that is deceptively upbeat, considering its subject matter. “It’s a big pop song, but talking about everybody wanting to rule the world,” he points out. “It’s another one of those ones where you can either listen to the lyrics or not bother. You’re going to get something from it either way, but lyrically, it’s a little darker than the song would suggest.”

Watch Tears for Fears' Video for 'Everybody Wants to Rule the World'

“Everybody Wants to Rule the World” gave Tears for Fears their second No. 1 single and remains a favorite track that’s frequently heard on the radio to this day. “The simplicity of ‘Everybody’ is why it’s lasted so long,” Smith tells hosts Phil Rosenthal and David Wild. “There’s a limited amount of parts on that song. It’s very small, compared to some of our songs, which have 48 to nowadays, a hundred tracks on them -- because you can have as many as you want now. We probably didn’t even use a 16-track [mix] on that one, but every part has a purpose.”

Even Don Henley Likes the Song

The Eagles drummer and frontman apparently appreciated what they had done and eventually put "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" into his own solo set list. He began performing it in the early 2000s and during his 2016 tour dates, he used it as an uplifting moment, expressing a weariness for the "freakin' circus" of that year's U.S. election. Subsequent concerts in 2017 brought the link between "Everybody" and "The Boys of Summer" even closer, with Henley playing the two tracks back to back.

Listen to Curt Smith of Tears for Fears on 'Naked Lunch'

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