I’ve been listening to a lot of Sting lately. For whatever reason over the past few years popular music has become less and less interesting to me. There are still a few bands here and there that I love, bands that speak to me, but they are few and far between. Among them, however, there is Sting. There are two songs in particular that have reached me in a powerful way. It isn’t that I resonate with either of them. I don’t. They have nothing to do with my life. But they are wonderful stories and there are very few things in life that I like more than a wonderful story.
I Hung My Head is the story of a man who accidentally shoots and kills a stranger. Not surprisingly this song was also performed by Johnny Cash on his American IV album. Though at first glance the song is apparently about death it is really about regret and the powerlessness of much of our lives. It is a heart-wrenchingly beautiful drama and I love hearing it over and over again. It is also written in 9/8 time. Ya, you heard me.
I’m So Happy I Can’t Stop Crying is the story of a man who’s wife has left him. Never have I experienced a song that walks the fine line between sadness and hope so well. And the truly great joy of this song is the perfect marriage between the tone of the music and the one of the lyrics. So few major recording artists truly have the ability to marry a complex emotion like loss with a musical score, but Sting does it marvelously here. The movement from a major to a minor progression in the chorus following verse 3 hits me particularly hard.
This may seem like an odd post for me (though those who know me well know that I love music), but I’m going somewhere with this. It would appear that a lot of people I know are tired and sad right now. I understand, I’m just coming out of a pretty deep valley myself. These songs helped me because they are so deeply human. They touched me with both sadness and the promise of hope. In the spirit of hope then, I leave you with a line from I’m So Happy.
I saw that friend of mine, he said,
you look different somehow
I said, everybody’s got to leave the darkness sometime.