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I was just quoting the lyrics, last blog, so it seemed an appropriate choice.

I don’t know if I’m supposed to like Sting or not. A lot of people seem to think he’s pretentious and tedious, and some days I can see that, but sometimes he writes something snappy, and rather clever, and who doesn’t like that?

I’ve always enjoyed All This Time, it’s bouncy and tuneful, well recorded, and well arranged, and the ideas it expresses – and listen, at a minimum, it’s no small thing that a pop tune expresses ideas, right? – well suit my predilections and prejudices. The stone atheist in me enjoys the scorn for organized religion, and the morose philosopher with a bent for history just eats this with a spoon:

Teachers told us the Romans built this place.
They built a wall and a temple and an edge of the empire garrison town.
They lived and they died, they prayed to their gods,

but the stone gods did not make a sound.
And their empire crumbled ’till all that was left
Were the stones the workmen found.

Pretentious? Well, I don’t know, it sounds about right to me, and it instantly reminded me of another pretentious fop named Shelley, who wrote a little poem about a fellow who answered to “Ozymandias”:

I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

I’m not sure whether this sort of thinking is comforting or depressing. On the one hand, this too shall pass. On the other hand, so will I, and I’ve got a real feeling that I do before this does.

Anyway, listen to Sting’s bass work. He’s said he models his playing on McCartney’s, whom he calls “the Guv’nor”, and that makes the guy all right by me.

One comment on “Song of the Day: Sting – All This Time

  1. A prime tenet of Buddhism is that (as George Harrison said) All Things Must Pass. Impermanence and Death are a central theme. Indeed, the 4 Reminders are a constant contemplation of mine:

    FIRST Contemplate the preciousness of being so free and well favored. This is difficult to gain and easy to lose. Now I must do something meaningful.

    SECOND The whole world and its inhabitants are impermanent. In particular, the life of beings is like a bubble. Death comes without warning; this body will be a corpse. At that time the dharma will be my only help. I must practice it with exertion.

    THIRD When death comes, I will be helpless. Because I create karma, I must abandon evil deeds and always devote myself to virtuous actions. Thinking this, every day I will examine myself.

    FOURTH The homes, friends, wealth, and comforts of samsara are the constant torment of the three sufferings, just like a feast before the executioner leads you to your death. I must cut desire and attachment, and attain enlightenment through exertion.

    It seems that Shelley and Sting were contemplating the 2nd reminder, even if they didn’t know it.

    All This Time is a beautiful song, with a wonderful message. Perhaps a bit clever, but for Sting the lyrics are facile compared with those in Wrapped Around Your Finger:

    You consider me the young apprentice
    Caught between the Scylla and Charibdes
    Hypnotized by you if I should linger
    Staring at the ring around your finger….

    I will listen hard to your tuition
    You will see it come to its fruition

    When Sting talks about the Priests giving last rites and looking like a murder of crows around his father, it gets me RIGHT THERE.


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