The Police is a strange band for me. I like a lot of their stuff, and was first introduced to them by the
Synchronicity album. It was one of the few vinyl albums I picked up, as the Compact Disc rapidly became my preferred medium.
Unsurprisingly the album cover is what drew me to it. It’s a vertical black and white triptych, with an overlay brush stroke of red, blue, and yellow color over each panel. It’s a kind of strange album compared to their other efforts, which is probably why I took an immediate liking to them followed by a period of mild confusion as it became clear that
Synchronicity was an outlier instead of a more representative example of their work.
This was probably my first exposure to “Pop Music” where I actually realized it was Pop. I’m sure there are folks that would drag me out into the alley for referring to
The Police as a “Pop” band, but I mean it in a good way. After sampling their other material I kind of pushed them into the corner and didn’t really give them any attention for a very long time. I don’t know what prompted me to blow the dust off and give them another try. At some level I might have realized that pushing them into the corner with a “I’m too good for that” half hearted nihilistic teenage shove has less to do with the music, and more to do with my unwillingness, at the time, to pause, listen, and try to understand. Other bands would pull me back from the “if it can be called Pop it must be bad” precipice. When I returned, there, in the dusty corner, the
The Police remained patiently waiting to be reevaluated.
Don’t get me wrong, they are far from my favorite band, but I do appreciate the subtlety they’re able to wrap up in catchy tunes. It’s a precarious balance, though. The influences of Andy Summers (guitar) and Stewart Copeland (drums) are required seasoning to keep Sting’s efforts within the tasty zone of my musical palette. His solo work, while I can appreciate it for what it is, just doesn’t do much for me.
In any event, I think the notion of feeling one’s voice is just whispering, muttering, talking, screaming into the void is all too relatable right now. While my teenage self saw the loneliness aspect of the song as one of personal disconnection, my current self sees it as a global one. At the same time I think there is some hope. The lonely teenager can take solace that the “hundred million bottles” on the shore means their hyper personal strife isn’t unique. By the same token, this nervous adult can extrapolate some hope that those “hundred million bottles” are also calling, nay demanding, for an SOS that become a tidal roar that cannot be ignored.
So, with no more ado, here is a great performance of
Message In A Bottle by
The Police during their 2008 reunion tour. It should also be noted that this song appears on the
Reggatta en Blanc album, that was one of those castoffs that was waiting for me in that dusty corner of “Pop” albums.