Monday, January 11, 2010

Sting or The Police for Lit Geeks?

Ok, the music thing seems popular, and coincidentally it’s come up again, this time with a completely different friend.  I mentioned in passing that I was going through some Police music, and just didn’t find it that interesting to my taste.  Conjures up memories of hanging out at the pizza place in the mall during high school, but nothing really special about it.

“I’m a bit surprised to hear you say that,” he says.  “Some of his [Sting’s] Police stuff has good lyrics for a literary snob like yourself.”

We both agreed that Sting’s solo work is full of such things (such as an entire album entitled “Nothing Like The Sun”, from Sonnet 130).  But the Police as a group were also sneaking in literature references?

Somebody enlighten me.  What have I missed?

UPDATE: Janefan found this article that pretty much tackles this very topic.  Sting’s apparently just a bit too smart for some of us.  Thanks Jane!

2 comments:

Janefan said...

two come to mind real quick:

Don't Stand so close to Me - "The line "Just like the old man in that book by Nabokov" alludes to Vladimir Nabokov's famous novel Lolita which covers similar issues."

Wrapped Around Your Finger - "Like other Police songs from this period, it features mythological and literary references, notably to the Scylla and Charybdis monsters of Greek mythology, and the German legend of Faust."
(quotes from the songs Wikipedia pages)

Sting was a teacher before he got into music. I'd always heard it was English teacher, but it's not clear from his wiki. A lot of his lyrics seem to have a poetic feel if not overt literary references. By and large, I think his songs are a bit more intelligent and esoteric than your average pop songs generally are...

Duane said...

That was the gist of our conversation, the quest for "intelligent" lyrics. Or, rather, why an intelligent literary geek like me might *not* like such things. (Truthfully when it comes time to write code for my dayjob I'm far more into the mindless headbanging stuff.)

I guess I just get so used the passing references (like "that book by Nabokov") that I forget all about them. I tend to think more in terms of entire songs made up from a central source of literature, or at least as insiration. Like Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet. Great stuff. (Not so much the Taylor Swift song, but at least it's in a similar vein if not being to my personal taste).