Cryptic. Yes that’s the word to describe the weather on the day I called fellow cowboy and musicologist Narendra Kusnur for this week’s Album Talk. It was overcast and sunny at the same time and there was a drizzle too. This reminded me of one of the most cryptic songwriters and a superb bassist, Sting.
Well, we both couldn’t settle down on which of Sting’s album to discuss so eventually settled on the compilation album, ‘The Very Best of Sting & The Police’.
Note: Language may be altered to suit the platform’s requirements.
Me: I think this is a brilliant compilation album.
Kusnur: Certainly. It covers Sting’s songs right from his Police days to the late 90s.
Me: The album has three versions, first was released in 1997 and the last one in 2002.
Kusnur: The latter ones also featured ‘Desert Rose’ and also ‘Brand New Day’. One of the version features ‘Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot’.
Me: That’s in the first one.
Kusnur: It also has the song, ‘Russians’.
(It was at this point realisation struck that we were talking about two different versions of the album)
Me: Sting may be the only artist who could make rockers like love songs.
Kusnur: Yeah! Sting was very eclectic. His music was not formula-driven rock or pop. Fans of both genres can identify with songs like ‘Fields Of Gold’.
Me: I love that song! Most of his songs are cryptic, example ‘Shape Of My Heart’. In Sting’s own words, the song is…
“Actually, I wanted to write a song about a card player – someone who wasn’t necessarily interested in winning, but was looking for some kind of mystical logic behind the laws of chance. He had a sort of philosopher streak in him. And part of my interest (in the subject) was the idea of the card player whose job it is never to show emotion, either positive or negative – which makes him a quite difficult person to live with or to have a relationship with because he has a hard time expressing his love.”
Me: ‘If I Ever Lose My Faith In You’ was about losing faith in things which were close to you and yet living hopefully.
Kusnur: This song is from one of his most cryptic albums, ‘Ten Summoner’s Tales’.
Me: My favourite Sting song is ‘Fields Of Gold’. It is one of the most well written and haunting love songs. Midway through the song the man has died and is waiting for his lover to die. Of course his most popular song is ‘Every Breath You Take’.
Kusnur: The song came after his sound had changed. The early Police sound had a lot of reggae influence. There is a song that goes “De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” and it worked!
Me: I feel ‘Roxanne’ was not only about the struggles of a prostitute standing on the street but every individual walking the street. ‘Englishman In New York’ was about an English gay icon and written Quentin Crisp and his struggles when he relocated to New York. ‘When We Dance’ is about a man’s yearning for his childhood sweetheart, who marries a settled guy. What was ‘Message In A Bottle’ about?
Kusnur: I never understood it either!
Me: What was he trying to say?
Kusnur: Lord knows! ‘Let Your Soul Be Your Pilot’ was a spiritual song with a message about life and it’s jazz.
Me: Surprisingly, none of the versions of this compilation album feature ‘It’s Probably Me’. I think it is one of his best works.
Kunsur: It also features Eric Clapton, Michael Kamen, and David Sanborn.
Me: Somehow many find his music repetitive when it is not. Ok, one last question, “Every Breath You Take” the original or the Puff Daddy version?
What followed was a barrage of unmentionables that were shadowed by laughter.
Guess which one did the Bandra cowboy pick?
Until next week!
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