What the hell is this?

I Can't Stand [Meeting] You is a collection of all the ridiculous things I've written to and about drummer and composer Stewart Copeland.

I actually did meet him for about five crazy seconds in 2007, again for a few exciting moments in August 2009, and my most recent (and most thrilling!) encounter took place in October 2009, where I proved myself capable of being, yet again, a total dork in the man's presence.

I can't believe what I get up to. And neither should you.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dear Sting,

I read this article in the LA Times about your "Symphonicity" tour.

The writer of that article tried to trick us into believing you are "likable" by starting off describing your luxurious surroundings (because what makes a guy more likable than a ridiculously expensive apartment overlooking Central Park?), and then by straight up telling us that you're likable. He couldn't hide that every word he recorded that you spoke drips with ego. Ego is a lot of things; likable isn't one of them. He couldn't hide that you admit that you don't have any more creative ideas. I think he was trying to write a flattering portrait of you, but as I have always suspected, pomposity covers you like a shiny new layer of muscle, and while that sounds appealing, it really isn't.

Listen, dude, there's no rule that rock and roll needs to be in 4/4 time or only employ 4 chords. Jesus (and no, I'm not referring to you as the man some people consider to be our lord and savior; I'm just expressing frustration at your dimwitted-ness), have you ever heard of Rush? Radiohead? The Mars Volta? XTC? Black Sabbath? The Melvins? The Beatles? (I hate to lead with Rush, because their songwriting is just as silly as yours, but an excellent example of complicated music that has endured 30 years of criticism, and maybe by accident, is kinda FUN to listen to. Fun! Think about it!) You've successfully prevented yourself from ever writing a good pop song again by instead being satisfied with coining a clever phrase: "tyranny in a backbeat." All other rock/pop musicians who are creative, who give a shit about music (which you refer to as an "asset;" I guess that makes you a terrific businessman, right?) and make new something as old and tired as rock and roll: they should all spit on you. In 5/4 time, maybe. Just hum Dave Brubeck's "Take 5" and you'll be right on the beat.

Look, I'm just a slightly hack-y flutist who likes Sousa and Gaubert and Mozart and Thom Yorke and Led Zeppelin and Stewart Copeland, and my grasp of rhythm has always been a little shaky until fairly recently, but I'll tell you what, Sting, you're just wrong.

The funny thing is, after reading about it, I actually would like to hear some of the new arrangements: the descriptions sound interesting (do you have an understudy? Perhaps Elvis Costello?), and it sure sounds like you've once again hired yourself the best musicians, arrangers, and conductors money can buy. Good for you. The original versions of "Every Breath You Take" and "Message in a Bottle" sure were profitable, weren't they! And are Andy and Stewart's contributions forgotten by you? Were they just two random, lucky blonds cashing your checks? Stewart, putting the emphasis on beat three... don't tell me that was your idea? And the octobans too?

Ah, but telling a classically trained trumpet player to hold a note a little longer does not make you a musical genius.

Suck it,

P.S. This all started in response to my friend Paul who posted a link to your story on my wall on Facebook. I blasted off a slightly shorter response there (in bed, using my iPhone, if these details matter to you), and then a little while later I got up and got on the real computer, with the dual monitors and stereo speakers. I found this NPR story from 2008 that I am now slightly obsessed with, even though one of the examples involves Nick Drake, and everyone knows public radio listeners love Nick Drake (not necessarily bad, just so obvious). Sometimes the NPR writers oversimplify things or make questionable statements in definitive tones, but this is good stuff to start with, for those interested in interesting time signatures.

P.P.S. I listened to Radiohead's "15 Step" while writing this letter. Here they are performing it live.


foobella said...

I love you, Irene!!

He's definitely a horses ass and getting more and more so as the years go by. Shouldn't it be the opposite, though?


foobella said...

oh, but I have to confess that I am going to see his "symphonicity" in July. It's a love/hate thing. I can't help it.

If he'd only learn that he will never be alone what The Police are together.

paulinho said...

i was most offended by the reference to music as an "asset." blech.

great, cathartic post, irene! thanks for a good read.

Irene said...

Sting will never learn that. I think his willful refusal to understand what made him a celebrity and his own popularity must be what keeps him handsome.

Even with the nosejob, he's pretty hot.

Surly Scott said...

I guess I agree with your assessment. I started reading a similar article in Rolling Stone and had to put it down before I became too annoyed.

dufmanno said...

Oh Sting.
I can write you a new song or give you a violent kick to jumpstart the creative process again. It's up to you but either way I'm more than willing to help.
Someone take away that Italian mansion and compound so Sting can suffer some horrific misfortune and pen a masterpiece.