I wasn't going to watch the Sting concert, not that I don't like Sting, but I objected to the original venue for practical reasons. It was almost three hours away, and with a baby still nursing late at night, I just couldn't see how I could go and watch. There was no way I was having my kids hanging around the concert venue at night so that would mean being separated from the baby for at least eight hours and missing two breastfeeds--and where in the world was I going to pump milk? It was insane. I suggested to my mother, who was determined to go, to bring my husband instead because at least he could drive her. My husband thoughtfully suggested that she bring instead his older brother, her co-teacher at the university. Sting was more popular in his generation, he said. She decided to make that her Christmas present to him.
It was difficult getting the tickets. When she called the store selling them, she was told they weren't selling tickets, though the concert was only about a month away. I guessed this was due to an environmentalist issue that had erupted with the owner of the venue, the magnate of a major store chain that was appealing to be allowed to cut protected pine trees in a mountainside city in order to stabilize the foundation of its branch there. Now I patronize this store as it has the best baby clothes, but I don't like the fact that they want to cut the trees either. Anyway, I turned out to be right about Sting's environmentalist principles and the change in venue turned out to be serendipitous later for me. Once my mother was able to buy the tickets, she found there was only one left in the upper box, so she purchased general admission for my brother-in-law.
Then she told him about it and he said, "I don't like Sting! Well, I like one song. The only Sting song I like is 'Russians' and I don't think he sings that anymore."
Trust him to like one song I'd never heard of, but then he's a bit older than me. We blamed my husband for getting it all wrong. Then we told him that he should probably go instead. He hedged because it was about the time his grades were due.
So as it turned out, I was the lucky recipient of the free ticket. But while at home I dance with abandon to "Every Little Thing She Does is Magic" with my daughter and "De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da” with my baby (modified to "Ah goo goo goo, Ah ga ga ga" because those are his favorite sounds), I'm not so at ease doing this with a crowd of strangers. I figured I would find someone I knew who was going, though. And at least I would only be an hour away from home.
So I went, hooking up with my friends Honey and Raoul who turned out to be major Sting fans. Raoul even criticized the girls seated behind him for knowing only the most popular Sting songs. Oops, that would be me as well, but I did enjoy discovering some of his other songs as well, especially the haunting "Fragile." I'm no good at describing music, I'm afraid, so you'll have to look elsewhere for a description of the concert. I will just say it was amazing, and even the songs unfamiliar to me enticed me with their intriguing use of words as well as their rhythms.
My friend Honey actually uses his songs to teach figures of speech. I'm not a poet, but I do like the originality and beauty of his imagery and the way his words fall so neatly into place, fitting the music without wrongly accented words, forced rhymes or senseless lines created just to fill a meter. I have written maybe four okay poems in my life and tried to make two of them songs, so I appreciate how difficult this is to do. Finding the right line to fit is so often an act of serendipity.
In my previous blog post about writers who are shape-shifters, I realize now I should have included Sting. He is incredibly versatile, even rendering versions of medieval songs. I hoped he'd perform "The Angel Gabriel" at least as it was Christmas season. He didn't, unfortunately.
There was just a hint of his range in the concert; of course the most popular tunes dominated. The showbiz industry of course tends to package performers as a single type, sadly, as some publishers do with their writers. Songwriters who vary their style are often criticized, in fact, like Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty when they made Seussical. My husband and I love it, critics sniffed at it.
I guess this type of marketing works well for most people, but this shortchanges those with a wide range of interest, both artists and audience. Sting is clearly a person of courage and integrity, evident in his insistence on changing his concert venue out of principle. Given this, he certainly isn't going to let marketing principles get in the way of his creative choices. I've got to remember to do that as well. Even though I bought baby clothes at the controversial store chain just before the concert.