Sting & What Makes a Great Songwriter

Another post from the past – dateline August 8, 2002

The Police

I’ve been scouring the KaZaA Peer-to-Peer Network lately compiling all the songs from the Police’s first three albums. Sting in his day was – with the exception of Elvis Costello – truly without a peer as a pop songwriter. Hole in My Life, Born in the 50’s, Bring On The Night, and others are just timeless. This is really my third experience of these songs – the first was when I was very young, learning them by osmosis from my older brothers and their record collections. The second was in middle school, during the back-to-seventies/sixties craze that lasted about 1 year, and saw the brief return of tie-dye’s and The Monkees. Anyway, its just a shame how Sting has fallen from grace into this Adult Album Alternative wasteland, where his songs serve mainly to moisten the panties of undersexed suburban mothers.

Don’t Stunt My Genius, Man

My opinion, stated in the past, on the status of the ‘Great Pop Songwriter’ is that he is mainly a talented but musically uneducated individual who knows how to make a virtue of his limitations. The old hippie idea that too deep a knowledge of musical theories may hinder a songwriter’s creative impulse is one I usually shoot down as idiotic. However, I’m finding that there must be some truth to this. The creative impulse in music is basically a hubristic attitude that says: “I’ll do whatever the hell I please, ’cause I know it’ll sound good”. How else can I explain the fact that I, a totally trained composer but with a rock-n-roll soul, am unable to break from my urge to write the most complex rhythmic/harmonic weird-o art-rock I can conceive, even when I consiously set out to just write a catchy tune? Education can be a plague.