Friday, March 02, 2007

Now Hold On There, Partner

The whole world knows that I have great affection for my writing partner, but Trip’s deep personal antipathy toward the artist formerly known as Gordon Sumner has, I fear, colored his perception of reality.

In the post below, he issues a challenge: “Name one Police song that is a stone classic. You can’t do it.”

Now, I can’t dunk a basketball, speak Russian or make it through an episode of Two and a Half Men, but I can do this one in my sleep.

For starters, “Every Breath You Take.” It’s not just a classic, it’s a standard, one of the most well-known and enduring songs of the second half of the Twentieth Century. Is there really any debate about this?

Then there’s “Message in a Bottle,” the perfect distillation of the Police’s broader vision into a pop song, where Stewart Copeland’s polyrhythmic virtuosity marries with Andy Summers’s trademark colorations to underpin one of Sting’s best melodies. And what about “So Lonely”? “Can’t Stand Losing You”? “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”?

And dare I say “Roxanne”? I can hear the snarkers howling, but there was a time when this song absolutely leaped off the radio. I think the revisionist derision aimed at this tune has more to do with what it has come to represent through Sting’s subsequent lounge-lizard reinterpretations than with the original recording, which, to my ears, remains flawless.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not about to plunk down three figures to watch a show through binoculars (Trip’s thirteen-for-the-price-of-one proposition is genius). I don’t go for nostalgia or remote musical experiences (and that includes the Stones, my fave band ever). But there are some arresting songs in the catalog of the only band I know that is simultaneously overrated and underrated.

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