All around me are familiar faces
Worn out places, worn out faces
Bright and early for their daily races
Going nowhere, going nowhere
Their tears are filling up their glasses
No expression, no expression
Hide my head, I want to drown my sorrow
No tomorrow, no tomorrow

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it's a very very
Mad world, mad world

Children waiting for the day, they feel good
Happy birthday, happy birthday
And I feel the way that every child should
Sit and listen, sit and listen
Went to school and I was very nervous
No one knew me, no one knew me
Hello teacher, tell me what's my lesson?
Look right through me, look right through me

And I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad
The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had
I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take
When people run in circles it's a very very
Mad world, mad world
Enlarge your world
Mad world

Lyrics submitted by Emilia-san, edited by paryafarrokhi, sjihaat, JojoBearBinx

Mad World Lyrics as written by Roland Orzabal

Lyrics © BMG Rights Management

Lyrics powered by LyricFind

Mad World (Tears for Fears cover) song meanings
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  • +51
    General CommentI think that this entire song is him realizing that there's no point in existing. He's not necessarily suicidal, but he sees existence as trivial. His dreams about dying are not necessarily about death, but about ceasing to exist altogether, something he wishes was possible. The part about the children is saying that children are oblivious to the concept of existence, that they see only what they know, and that he wishes he could share their ignorance. The birthday symbolizes the child's mentality of an event so significant that it is worth looking forward to consistently, believing that the next one will be better than the last, when in reality the effects of the event dull until it is simply another day. During the time when a child feels so excited about an event that an adult finds almost insignificant, they display true ignorance and obliviousness. The singer yearns to be a child and have such mentalities, but as he cannot, he sees no reason to exist.
    Glacionon December 21, 2006   Link
  • +24
    General CommentI think he's just struggling with how empty existence feels.
    Deadinkon November 19, 2006   Link
  • +13
    My Interpretation"All around me are familiar faces
    Worn out places, worn out faces"

    Everyday he sees the same things, and the same people and he is realizing life has become a constant, daily chore.
    "Bright and early for their daily races
    Going nowhere, going nowhere"

    Everyday, people try to outdo the last by getting up early and working extra hard, but they won't get any farther because life is a vicious circle, and you can't escape day and night.
    "Their tears are filling up their glasses
    No expression, no expression"

    People grow tired and sad of completing the same ritual over and over and over again, but you can't stop it, it's inevitable.
    "Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow
    No tomorrow, no tomorrow"

    He realizes how terrible it is to get up and do something only to do it again the day after that, and the day after that.
    "And I find it kind of funny
    I find it kind of sad"

    It is a silly thought that every person on Earth does everything to get nowhere, but it's still really depressing that it is like that.
    "The dreams in which I'm dying
    Are the best I've ever had"

    He finds that he likes the dreams in whick he's dying because he's finally out of the monotonus, repetitive psychical world.
    "I find it hard to tell you
    I find it hard to take"

    He hates the idea of it.
    "It's a very, very
    Mad world
    Mad world"

    "Children waiting for the day they feel good
    Happy birthday, happy birthday"

    Kids wait for their birthday because they feel special, and happy about getting to be a year older, but it's just another ring in the tree, and it means nothing because it's going to happen again and again, just like everything else.
    "Made to feel the way that every child should
    Sit and listen, sit and listen"

    Kids are just raised to be replacements of their parents and just sit with the other children and listen.
    "Went to school and I was very nervous
    No one knew me, no one knew me"

    "Hello teacher, tell me, what's my lesson?
    Look right through me, look right through me"

    He asks the teacher a question but she just "looks right through him" because he is just another member of the class and isn't important as an individual.

    So it's all just about being a number and unimportant and repeating the same day over and over again but still not getting anywhere. Ahh this song makes me cry, I can't listen to it.

    BarbieIsMyHomegirlon June 05, 2009   Link
  • +10
    General CommentI love this song, and I've put alot fo thought into it.

    The first part (lines 1-8) are about a funeral. He is sitting at the funeral, and he sees the familiar faces of friends and relatives. The reference to filling glasses with tears is not talking about drinking glasses, but rather they are crieing and getting tears all over their eye glasses. The blank expressions show that it is a solemn event, and the guy is clearly sad by wanting to hide his sorrows. He wants to be string and hide it, but he feels very strong emotions.

    The chorus, about his dreams, reveals the confusion going on in his head. He doesn't know how to feel in his time of despair.

    When the song talks about children waiting for the day they're happy, I think he is talking about himself. Either he is a child, or he is comparing himself to a child waiting for his birthday. The "sit and listen" part is , in the child metaphor, about how kids are made to behave. From older person perspective, he feels like he's being told how to feel by the people around him, but really he wants to feel his own way.

    I think that the lines about going to school once again bring up the child metaphor. Children literally do go to school and talk to teachers, but I think it really means that "going to school" is returning to life after the loss of a loved one. He feels awkward, and unsure of himself, and people always would offer their condolences and pity him, which actually makes him feel alienated. He doesn't want any special treatment.

    "Hell teacher, tell me whats my lesson" means that he could be praying to God, or just looking for guidance in his life after he was torn apart by his sorrows. He wants God, or whoever can help him to "look right through him" and understand how he feels, because, as I said before, he feels alienated.

    The sing finishes with another chorus. I find it a bit hard o interpret, but, as I said before, it reveals his confusion and mixed emotions. When the lyrics talking about running in circles, I think it could be referring to the "circle of life", but I'm really not sure.

    There'er my thoughts, enjoy!
    Canadian_Baconon December 07, 2006   Link
  • +7
    Song MeaningThe speaker is obviously viewing the world as an outsider. The first and final stanzas mainly discuss how everyone in the world seems so shut out of life itself as they are going through it with "worn out faces" with "no expression." The speaker perceives these people to be "going nowhere" because their goals in every day life are wrong in his point of view.

    The second stanza is about his feelings for this mad world, which he does not wish to continue being a part of, if you would even consider him a part of it in the first place. Again, he sees these people just running around in circles, with nothing truly reached in the end.

    The birthday and school references in the third stanza are examples as to how people are phased out and are no longer "living" and are instead just going through the motions. Every child just waits until they get to feel special for their birthday which is a very dark concept as it implies children do not very often feel as though they are special, or are highly valued, until it is their special day to be. Just as children do not feel special, the adults do not treat them as special. His teacher would look straight through him, as instead of getting to know his student, he runs through the motions as he would any regular student, rather than creating any bond between him as the teacher and the speaker as a student.

    The speaker is very obviously stating that there is something wrong with how people are living and that they are not truly reaching any valuable goals. I believe this could be interpreted in many different ways and this is also why this song is so great; people can form connections to the song with very different interpretations of it.

    One example that I believe fits best is that the speaker is speaking of the corporate world. Everyone is "racing" to get to the top, be the richest, and earn the most money. The speaker would perceive this as a mad world as money is completely extrinsic and does not help you achieve anything intrinsically meaningful. We could then see the teacher's lack of enthusiasm to help the speaker as a child as a very fitting topic to include in the lyrics because the teacher only wants money, and does not wish to go out of his way to help unless it will earn him more money. Then we could also acknowledge the bit about children not feeling so special until their birthdays as an effect of the greed of the adults who are too busy working to get money to make their children feel truly special, but attempt to make them feel better by buying them things instead.

    I have only presented one possible interpretation that makes sense to me and throughout these comments you may find many more that are just as viable. I believe this is a very beautiful song.
    netramzon January 08, 2013   Link
  • +4
    General CommentI did a presentation for my school about how nobody really lives life anymore and takes for granted all the things that we have and put this song on the video that i made. There was about 60% of the crowd(which was about 200 people) that where crying at some point during the speech and every one of them told me that I couldn't of chosen a better song to use. I always felt that this song had a deep meaning but after my presentation, I finally realized that this song is truely a description of how 99% of people live there lives.everybody gets up, goes to work/school, goes home eats and goes to bed...rinse and repeat.
    wanttotalkaboutiton May 20, 2008   Link
  • +4
    My InterpretationThis song has much meaning to it, it is not just words being jumbled together to make pretty noises unlike most music in this generation. It shows how everyone is made to act like this, do this, and be like this. Feeling special comes only when they have actually made it another year, otherwise they aren't meant to feel much different from the bunch. Although as they get older, that special, butterfly feeling fades away and becomes only a distant memory. Really, age only becomes a number. Education is strict and must be done a certain way or they are told you will fail, they are just another face among the other students. Teachers only going for the money, not wanting to bond with the ones he is trying to educate. People are going in circles, going to work, going home, going to work. Getting nowhere, only back to where they began. They are told money is everything. Although if they was nothing, no food, no water, no clothes, just a pile of money, what would it be good for. Everyone is turning on each other just to be number one. Running and scurrying. Ramming into a wall over and over, expecting a different outcome. Being scared that they will not be like other people, to not be ordinary. Fearing the thought of standing out. People soon forget emotions, not knowing that they are sad, depressed. Yearning for sleep, dreams, where they feel safe and warm. Where they don't have to be like everyone else. Not having to be afraid to speak their mind. Enlarge in their world, their life. Don't be stuck in the same room forgetting how to use the door. The door to freedom, to true living. But they wouldn't know that feeling, it was drained from them. It is after all, a mad, mad world.
    TtickTtockon January 15, 2013   Link
  • +3
    General CommentPersonally, to me this song represents the idea that people lead generally cyclical lives in terms of what they pursue and how they subsequently fail at what they're doing, essentially gaining no ground whatsoever. At a specific level one can see this sort of thing working out with dating and people's orientations towards their love lives. People, despite being hurt by a particular type of person, will continue to pursue the same sort of person, and wonder why relationships never work out with themselves. Woman wonder why there are no "nice guys," and men wonder why women are "crazy."

    At a general level you can see this cyclical nature of humanity happening throughout history. People are doomed to repeat the failures of the past, even with knowledge of the past. They repeat the same mistakes and follow the same pattern, stuck in the rut of their blindness and refusal to see that the path that they are on is the same path as others taken before, paths that inevitably lead to failure.

    When people go in circles, it is a very very mad world.
    MysticSonicon October 22, 2008   Link
  • +3
    Song MeaningThe first verse is very indicative of a very repetitive life-style, 'worn out places, worn out faces'. In reality, everyone is rushing about their day, but for what? 'Going nowhere, going nowhere'. I believe the line 'their tears are filling up their glasses' is not meant to be taking literally, but rather their sorrows and sadness lead them to drink perhaps more-so, as in 'filling up their glasses'.

    The verse referencing children is almost like a comparison between the first; between adulthood and childhood. 'Children waiting for the day they feel good, happy birthday...' seems to suggest is the only time in your life when you'll actually have a meaning for being alive, being a child it seems so exciting. It goes on to, again like an adult, present the robotic and mundane, repetitive routines that throughout your whole like you endure... 'sit and listen, sit and listen'.

    'When people run in circles it's a very very... Mad World'. Why are we doing this? It's mad.
    betweenlines91on October 20, 2010   Link
  • +3
    General CommentThe themes in this song are going to be subjective/relative depending on the individual reading the lyrics and their reaction to the words in addition to the connotation given off by the music itself. Since I don’t think it is necessary to attempt an objective interpretation of this song, it is probably pertinent, before reading my opinion, to address the perception that ultimately molds my understanding of ‘Mad World’ by Gary Jules. I have always felt a degree of disdain for the 9-5 lifestyle to which many have grown accustomed in our modern society: finding it unnatural and sometimes numbing to the artistic senses. I believe Gary Jules is describing the deadening of the spirit wrought from the obligation to routine. He begins by referencing “familiar faces”, implying that he has not left the environment in which he grew up or possibly has been in for a while, so he knows everyone he sees. This could be construed as a positive thing, especially if you are one who finds comfort in routine both in surroundings and people, but Jules remarks that they are “worn out places…[and] faces”, which has a negative connotation. He first mentions routine in the next line: “Bright and early for their daily races” and elaborates by stating that they are “going nowhere, going nowhere”. If you consider the commute to and from work and home on a daily basis, or school in the case of youth who are mentioned later, the person is not geographically going anywhere by the end of the day–they have simply come back to where they started. Metaphorically this could represent a stunted growth, perhaps of the spirit, from not experiencing new things or people, which can expand one’s worldview (the second last line of the song tells the audience to ‘enlarge [their] world’). Next comes possibly my favorite part of the song: “Their tears are filling up their glasses/ No expression, no expression”. The cup refers to sustenance, as water sustains all life, and these people have actually become sustained by the sadness or numbness they feel in this lifestyle. Some feel obligated to society, some to family, and some to themselves to continue making money or maintain employment despite how happy they actually may be. The fact that these people have no expression indicates that they are unaware of this sadness and therefore are unlikely to change their lives. The speaker then says he wants to “Hide my head I want to drown my sorrow/ No tomorrow, no tomorrow” because he is despondent as he realizes this about those he knows so well. His view of there being no tomorrow refers to the impossibility of changing this in people because they are, once again, unaware that they are becoming numb to the beauty of their lives. Coming into the bridge to the chorus (I apologize if my musical terms are incorrect, I lack education in that field!!) he says “I find it kinda funny, I find it kinda sad/ The dreams in which I'm dying are the best I've ever had”. He wants to be rid of the world of which he does not approve, and he knows this a defeatist approach to the problem, which is why he finds it sad. He also finds this funny because typically dreams about dying are horrific but they are something he relishes because it allows him to pretend that he is released from something he apparently cannot fix. Subsequently Jules admits “I find it hard to tell you, I find it hard to take/ When people run in circles it's a very very/ mad world mad world”. He finds it hard to tell you, the audience in addition to or as a part of the group of people this song is about, because he thinks it would be a moot effort but is still hard for him to take because he finds the lifestyle flawed. He mentions people running in circles, which relates back to those going nowhere, and reasons that this creates a mad world. Now one must decide is mad is defined as angry or crazy, and I have personally chosen the latter (If the people are not aware of it how can they be angry?). I believe Jules is asserting that it is “mad” to run in circles and essentially go nowhere. Next Jules mentions “Children waiting for the day they feel good/ Happy birthday, happy birthday”, because the world has become so invested in the material world, created from continuous pursuit of the monetary means to survive, that even their children look forward only to the day when they are acknowledged and given presents simply for surviving another year of life. They are also “Made to feel the way that every child should/ Sit and listen, sit and listen”. This describes the indoctrination of the next generation into this mentality, which relates back to the potentially moot effort of making others aware of the alternative lives they could lead. The fact that “every child should” feel this way highlights the uniformity of their lives because there is no difference in what one child should feel versus another. The next four lines must be cited and explained together: “Went to school and I was very nervous/ No one knew me, no one knew me/ Hello teacher tell me what's my lesson/ Look right through me, look right through me”. The use of “me” in these lines not only refers to the perhaps personal experiences of Gary Jules, but also gives the audience the chance to understand the magnitude of these first-person pronouns. This child is nervous going to school, apparently because no one knows him. Maybe this is because he is new to the school, but to maintain the literary analysis I have created up to this point, a much more relevant interpretation would suggest that no one truly knows the student because he is unable to convey himself to others. The result of this uniform society has prevented the individual from rising to the surface. For this reason also, the teacher look right through him because he/she is too preoccupied giving the lesson for the benefit of the masses to ever notice the individual. The only purpose of their relationship is for one to convey knowledge and the other to receive it, nothing more. We are then brought back to the chorus, which emphasizes the same sentiments it did before. However, as mentioned earlier, Jules also asks the audience to “Enlarge your world” which ties the entire piece together.
    jfountainon August 10, 2012   Link

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