April 28, 2004
Songs for a Desert Island I
I'm going to try something new today. I'm sure we've all been asked this question before, but now I'm going to document my selections. If I was stranded alone on a desert island, what music would I want to keep me company? More specifically, what songs would I want, could I conceivably stand, to hear over and over and over again? My first selection:
Synchronicity II by the Police
This is one of my all time favorite songs. First of all the music is great. It is one of the few songs in the Police's catalog that Sting actually allows Andy Summers to show off his guitar playing abilities. I went to see Sting on his Ten Summoner's Tales tour and he played this song during the concert. However, Sting's current guitar player, Dominic Miller, did not play the guitar parts half as well as Andy Summer. In fact, I was very disappointed. But I digress.
Aside from the music, the lyrics are some of Sting's best. In fact, they are inspired. In order to make it into the CD player on my desert island (how will I plug it in?) I need something more than "Oh baby" and a few strategically placed grunts and moans. I need something to think about. Synchronicty II tells the story of an unhappy family on the brink of exploding. Let's take a look at the lyrics:
Another suburban family morning
Grandmother screaming at the wall
We have to shout above the din of our Rice Crispies
We can't hear anything at all
Mother chants her litany of boredom and frustration
But we know all her suicides are fake,
Daddy only stares into the distance
There's only so much more that he can take
Many miles away something crawls from the slime at the
Bottom of a dark Scottish lake
A typical family in the suburbs wakes up to the same old monotony. There is something amiss with Grandma, and Mother is sick of her life at home. I can't help but think of my own wife in this circumstance, a stay at home mother who regulary chants a "litany of boredom and frustration." Thankfully suicide is not an issue. Enter Daddy. The head of the household is also sick of his existence, sick of work, sick of the same old everyday. He is reaching his breaking point. Then out of the blue, Sting introduces a monster "crawling from the slime" many miles away. What does this represent? I've got my own ideas which I will share later.
Another industrial ugly morning
The factory belches filth into the sky
He walks unhindered through the picket lines today,
He doesn't think to wonder why
The secretaries pout and preen like cheap tarts in a red light street,
But all he ever thinks to do is watch,
And every single meeting with his so-called superior
Is a humiliating kick in the crotch
Many miles away something crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish loche
Daddy gets to work, and from the sounds of it the job is not very satisfactory. Going through the motions he crosses the picket lines, and is confronted by possibly promiscuous secretaries (?). This part of the song has always confused me. What would Sting have Daddy do at this point? Flirt? Have an affair? Does Daddy need to do something with the secretaries to feel alive again, or to break out of his funk? Personally, I wouldn't consider adultery to be the answer. The end of the stanza is highlighted by possibly the best word play Sting has ever come up with, the weak rhyme between "crotch" and "loche." Genius! But more importantly, the monster has reached the surface.
Another working day has ended
Only the rush hour hell to face
Packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes
Contestants in a suicidal race
Daddy grips the wheel and stares alone into the distance
He knows that something somewhere has to break
He sees the family home now looming in the headlights
The pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache
Many miles away there's a shadow on the door of a cottage on the
Shore of a dark Scottish lake
Many miles away...
Many miles away...
Every time I get into a car after work I can't help but think of myself as a lemming in a "shiny metal box." Is our driving as pointless as lemmings marching to their deaths? And we've come full circle, Daddy stared into the distance in the morning, and now he is staring again "alone into the distance." He is about to explode. The monster has also reached it's destination. What will happen with Daddy? What will happen with the monster? Could the monster and Daddy be one in the same?
At first I thought this was a song about the mudane vs. the spectacular. Here is a family living a very boring existence, while "many miles away" something very extraordinary is happening. However, now I understand the song to be much more sinister. Undoubtedly the monster is Daddy's psyche reaching the breaking point, and the song ends with the monster reaching the door. Has Daddy also reached the door of the family home? One can only imagine what happens next, but it probably won't be pretty.
Anyway, you might be thinking to yourself why exactly I like this song. Quite frankly the music rocks and the lyrics are very thought provoking. It is a reminder of what not to become. Family life is hard work and it would be easy to slip into a monotonous, unsatisfying existence. Truthfully I thank God my family isn't like this.
So that is my thoughts on Synchronicity II, a song almost always played during rush hour. How appropriate. If you hear it today, listen to it a little more carefully and see if it speaks to you. Stay tuned for more Songs for a Desert Island!
Posted by snackeru at April 28, 2004 8:00 PM
It will be interesting to see how your songs have changed since our days at Concordia. We spent a great deal of time arguing about music, and about this issue in particular. I think the last time we talked about this, I remember Synchronicity II and a Led Zeppelin song (which one I can't recall) making the cut.
Posted by: Curt Hanson at April 29, 2004 8:48 AM
The Frank Sinatra Collection. But I'd have to be on a jungle island, desert island is too depressing. "Fly me to the moon, let me play among the stars..."
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 29, 2004 9:21 AM
Ok Guys, if you are on a desert island with the means to play music, a boombox or something, you would have some FM capability and could probably get all the Led Zep and Police you want on some South Pacific classic rock station. Me personally I would opt for the soundtrack for "The Harder They Come" Jimmy Cliff, etc.. (nice island music) and being a local boy, The Replacements compilation "All for Nothing, Nothing For All". My current fave is a band out of Philly called Marah, so if I was stranded tomorrow I would want them.
-Jim In St. Paul
Posted by: Jim in St. Paul at April 29, 2004 1:58 PM
Yes, all good suggestions. Frank Sinatra ... good call! The Replacements would be nice, too. Well, stay tuned for other selections. You may like what I pick out, and you may not. But hey, I'm the one that is stranded!
Posted by: Shane at April 29, 2004 2:31 PM
Ahhhh, Shane stranded on an island.... What biliss and joy my backyard will now be. Wait, I'm typing this? DELETE, DELETE!!!! No, don't post it! ARRRGGGHHHHH!!!!!
Posted by: Cheesehead Craig at April 30, 2004 8:34 AM
Let's see ... who am I going to give those Twins tickets to ... hmmmm ...
Posted by: Shane at April 30, 2004 8:36 AM