Friday, March 29, 2013

"At night, a candle's brighter than the sun"

I will not get into this too much -- it could turn into a lit. paper. In my opinion, though, Sting is one of the finest poet/lyricists Britain has ever produced. To me, he is not just a good lyricist -- he is a great writer in the traditional literary sense. I know -- that's a mouthful. It's a heck of a claim. But, instead of writing a lengthy defense of it, I'll maybe post little bits from time to time.

How about this set of lines from "An Englishman in New York," from ...Nothing Like the Sun? The tune is about an Englishman who holds onto his "British" demeanor, despite his surroundings:
Modesty, propriety can lead to notoriety --
You could end up as the only one.
Gentleness, sobriety are rare in this society.
At night a candle's brighter than the sun.
I know the first part is a bit prosaic, but that final line? Sweet Petunia that is good. In fact, I sense in that an intentional spring off of the prosaic leading lines that not only adds to the conceptual and poetic impact, but that creates a structure in which the final line is the Englishman against the unrefined backdrop of the city in which he lives. Brilliant. 

That's it -- I'll stop. Some day I will go on about his album The Soul Cages. To me, it is a lyrical masterpiece. I'll make that case later...

Here's the song in it's entirety. (Musically, notice how the great Branford Marsalis's deliciously-sophisticated soprano sax solo, followed by the savagely-thumping bass drum, adds another poetic layer to Sting's contrasting concoction):

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