I was reading a letter in the paper at the weekend that traced the above headline back to NME’s Charles Shaar Murray, reviewing the album ‘Ghost in the Machine’. I shall make it my mission in life to get a copy of said review, as I can’t help feeling that the combination of NME during its finest hour, CSM as popular music’s most barbed wit and Mr Sting in the period of his life just as he was getting really pompous would make for some excellent reading.
Then I got reminded of the quote when watching the unavoidable car crash that is the X Factor, later on that evening. Why, why, and why again, did something as banal and superficial as ‘Every Breath You Take’, ever etch itself into the nation’s psyche as a piece of work to be trotted out as a meaningful song from the heart? This is played at weddings and funerals, for goodness sake. I don’t want to go on about this at great length*, but it’s as if Captain Sting got given an Early Learning Centre rhyming dictionary for his birthday, and tried to fit around chapter one. Hence take/break, day/way, see/me etc.
So, back to the X Factor, where someone called Storm Lee was dragging the nation through Flt Lt Sting’s most insightful lyric since ‘Da Doo Doo Doo, Da Da Da Da’. About 30 seconds in, I realised the true horror of what I was watching, which went well beyond the immediate experience of dread TV.
Let me explain. I’m sure I’m not alone in having some slightly dysfunctional wiring in my brain that will, during quiet moments, revert to nonsense. Fortunately, like many people, I don’t have that many quiet moments, but if I’m going to sleep, going on a run, or listening to one of our coalition leaders discussing their new policies, I kind of drift off into a stupor, in which I have nonsense songs going round in my head. I think I’ve mentioned this before, and that ‘The Smurf Song’ makes a regular appearance in my brain at such times – a far from pleasant experience, particularly part way through a long run with no other distraction. So, the combination of unexpected exposure to Sqn Ldr Sting’s meisterwork and the fact that I’m going to be on a treadmill for very many hours on Friday can only mean one thing – that this is the song that’s going to be going round in my head.
It was with these rather negative thoughts going on that I looked at my email the following day, which had a contract from the organisers of the treadmill marathon. In point 3, it said:
All participants will be required to engage and interact with visitors…providing a service that is both entertaining and interactive.
So there we are. All I need to do on my run is to open up my inner monologue. Do come along and join in, altogether now…
*actually, I do, but time and your patience does not permit…