Meaning of the song Crazy by Gnarls Barkley & Song Story

Gnarls Barkley was formed in 2003 by Brian Joseph Burton and Thomas DeCarlo Callaway. The musicians, performing under the pseudonyms Danger Mouse and Cee Lo Green, named their project after a non-existent celebrity.

Their first album, St. Elsewhere has sold almost six million copies. The listeners especially liked the track Crazy, which became a major international hit.

The history and meaning of the song Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

The music was composed by Danger Mouse. He was inspired by spaghetti western soundtracks. Of particular note is the song Last Man Standing by Gianpiero Reverberi and Gianfranco Reverberi, which was featured in Terence Hill’s Prepare the Coffin. Borrowings from it are so obvious that the Reverbery brothers are even listed as co-authors of the Crazy track.

Burton and Callaway’s reminiscences of the creative work on the song will help you figure out what Crazy is about.

Danger Mouse talked about how the idea for the track came about and explained the main idea of ​​the piece:

I brought in a song that I thought was completely ripped off by Ennio Morricone, but we started talking to Cee Lo and I kind of got mad about people not wanting to take artists seriously unless they’re crazy. And we said that if we really want to promote this album, the best solution would be to kill ourselves …

We jokingly started discussing how we could make people think we were crazy. We talked about it for several hours and then I went home. While I was away, Cee Lo took that conversation and turned it into Crazy, which we recorded on the first try.

That’s the whole story. The lyrics of the song are his interpretation of that conversation.

The New York Times, 2006

Here is another quote from Cee Lo Green about sources of inspiration:

We talked about rock stars and authenticity: about Ozzy Osbourne, about the work of Iggy Pop and Jim Morrison. It somehow affected the subconscious. I jotted down the lyrics to the song, and did it in one go. Then I didn’t take it seriously.

Entertainment Weekly, 2016

In another interview, Cee Lo Green recalled the mood in which he wrote the song Crazy:

It was in 2004, I was divorcing my wife, we did not reach an agreement – everything seemed oppressive to me then. For me, it was a tough test. But I had the opportunity to be expressive. Danger Mouse took me into deep reflection on the past, for which I am really grateful to him. With his help, I realized that I was not alone in my torment. For the suffering me, his music was magnificent and beautiful. These were the sounds of my soul. If it could be photographed, it would resemble this internal chaos.


In this excerpt from an interview, Cee Lo Green talks about the history of the creation of the song Crazy and the meaning of the work:

I recorded the original backing track a couple of years ago when I was on holiday in Iceland. We turned it on in the morning and by the evening, when we left the studio, we had the whole song ready.

I thought Crazy might be the song that Danger Mouse would write if he wrote songs. He played me an instrumental track, and he just thought, “Wow!”. The track played constantly on repeat as we talked for two hours about common sense, its place in pop culture and the creative process, and its connection to true art.

The Observer Music Monthly

With this phrase, Cee Lo perfectly summed up the main idea of ​​Crazy:

A song about having to do things your way, and the fine line between insanity and being, proves you’re right.

Mojo, 2010

Release and achievements

Crazy was released as a single by Downtown Records. Label manager Josh Deutsch grabbed the track with both hands after listening to it just once. A few months before its official release, the song somehow ended up on BBC Radio 1. Popular DJ Zane Lowe started putting it on the air regularly and even using it in commercials.

It was published in March 2006. The song became the first UK single to top the UK Singles Chart solely due to online downloads of the track. On the Billboard Hot 100, Crazy peaked at number two. She also rose to the top of the charts in Denmark, New Zealand, Canada and other countries.

Crazy received a Grammy for Best Urban/Alternative Performance. In addition, it was nominated for the title of “Record of the Year”. The composition was recognized as the “Best Song” at the MTV Europe Music Award 2006.

She has received several prestigious awards:

  • “Best Song of 2006” – Rolling Stone,
  • No. 11 on the 500 Songs of the 2000s – Pitchfork Media,
  • 100th Greatest Song of All Time – Rolling Stone
  • 475th in the list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time” – New Musical Express.

It is also included in the list of five hundred songs that shaped rock and roll, according to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Crazy – Gnarls Barkley

Two music videos for the song are known. One Crazy video was directed by Robert Hales. It is designed in the style of Rorschach psychodiagnostic tests designed to study the patient’s personality.

In 2006, this video was nominated for an MTV Music Award in three categories and won two awards:

  • “Best Director”
  • “Best Editing”
  • Then you can watch online the official video of Crazy and listen to the online song Gnarls Barkley.

    An alternative music video for Crazy Gnarls Barkley was also released in the UK.

    Cover versions

    In June 2008, the song Crazy was released by the rock band Violent Femmes. The authors of the track compared their version with a quiet pond in which you can see your reflection. I suggest listening to the song online.

    The song has also been covered by dozens of other notable artists including The Zutons, Maroon 5, Billy Idol and Kasabian.

    Let’s watch the video clip of Crazy by The Kooks.

    The musicians On The Street Funk and Dannielle DeAndrea performed the song perfectly. Let’s watch the video clip.

    Interesting Facts

    • After Crazy spent nine consecutive weeks at the top of the UK charts, the members of Gnarls Barkley pulled the single from music stores so that people “would remember the song fondly and not get tired of it”.
    • The song has appeared on the soundtracks of several popular films, including Kick-Ass, The Big Shot and Grey’s Anatomy.
    • A slower version of Crazy was featured in the Birdman movie trailer, and the original track was used in TV commercials for the movie.
    • A cover version of Crazy is included in the theatrical version of Baz Luhrmann’s musical Moulin Rouge.


    I remember when
    I remember, I remember when I lost my mind
    There was something so pleasant about that place
    Even your emotions have an echo in so much space
    And when you’re out there, without care
    Yeah I was out of touch
    But it wasn’t because I didn’t know enough
    I just knew too much

    Does that make me crazy?
    Does that make me crazy?
    Does that make me crazy?

    And I hope that you are having the time of your life
    But think twice
    That’s my only advice
    Come on now, who do you
    Who do you, who do you
    Who do you think you are?
    Ha ha ha, bless your soul
    Do you really think you’re in control?

    I think you’re crazy
    I think you’re crazy
    I think you’re crazy
    Just like me

    My heroes had the heart
    To lose their lives out on a limb
    And all I remember, is thinking
    I wanna be like them
    Mmhmm ​​ever since I was little
    Ever since I was little it looked like fun
    And it’s no coincidence I’ve come
    And I can die when I’m done

    But maybe I’m crazy
    Maybe you’re crazy
    Maybe we’re crazy

    Crazy Lyrics: Brian Burton, Gianfranco Reverberi, Thomas Callaway
    Publisher: Warner Chappell Music, Inc., Universal Music Publishing Group, BMG Rights Management, Kobalt Music Publishing Ltd.

    Crazy Lyrics

    I remember how…
    I remember, I remember losing my mind.
    There was something very nice about it.
    Even your emotions echoed in the vast space.
    And when you are alone, without support.
    Yes, I was out of reach.
    But it’s not because I didn’t know enough.
    I just knew too much.

    Does this mean I’m insane?
    Does this mean I’m insane?
    Does this mean I’m insane?

    And I hope you enjoy life
    But think twice
    That is my advice.
    Come on, what do you think?

    What do you think, what do you think
    Who do you think you are?
    Ha ha ha, God bless you
    Do you really think you have everything under control?

    I think you are insane.
    I think you are insane.
    I think you’re insane
    Just like me.

    My heroes had the courage
    Give your life when you’re in trouble.
    And I just remember thinking
    That I want to be like them.
    M-m-m-m, in childhood,
    As a child, it seemed fun
    And it’s no coincidence that I did it.
    And I’m ready to die when I’m done.

    But maybe I’m crazy.
    Perhaps you are insane.
    Perhaps we are insane.

    Song quote

    It seemed too unusual to urban radio, and rock stations considered it too urban.

    Danger Mouse, Rolling Stone

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