Explorations in Music #3

Let’s kick this off by journeying back to the bygone era of yet another classic rock band. Thirty two years ago, in 1983, before the word “Fuck” was put in front of the phrase by NWA, The Police created some truly thought evoking songs. From “Every Breath You Take” to “Wrapped Around Your Finger” to “Walking on the Moon” to “Message in a Bottle”, these guys had something good going.

But, as fun as it would be to take each of those songs in turn, I’ve selected my personal favorite as the subject for today’s segment. 1983, back when Reagan was in office, the US was the good guys, the USSR was bad, and any regime that wasn’t communist was A-okay in our book, no matter how brutal and anti-democratic, The Police released ‘Synchronicity II” as part of their album Synchronicity (go figure). The lyrics and rhythms of this song make it one of my favorite songs they’ve ever done. So, without further ado, enjoy “Synchronicity II” by The Police.

There’s a lot of controversy over the meaning behind this song. Just take a look at the comments section in YouTube. From the number of people calling each other idiots, it’s very clear that there are a lot of different opinions out there (even more than usual on YouTube). Personally, when I first heard this song on the radio returning from work, I picked up on the Loch Ness monster references and fell in love in that moment. It was even more ironic since I was reading The Loch by Steve Alten at the time.

The idea of a plesiosaur living in Loch Ness has always been a romantic one for most, but it was a fascinating concept for me. I’ve always had a soft spot for myths and history, not to mention lore and ghost stories, so the suggestion that a 66 million year old extinct species could somehow have lived on into the 21st century, lurking beneath the dark surface of the Loch is thrilling. Do I believe it could be true? Not particularly, especially considering the facts above. But part of me will always wish it was true, just for the sake of a good tale.

Some argue that this song is meant to demonstrate the concept of synchronicity, or “the simultaneous occurrence of causally unrelated events and the belief that the simultaneity has meaning beyond mere coincidence” (Dictionary.com). There is a strong case for that, especially considering the title of the song, but I’ve always found something deeper in the lyrics.

The song shows a working man being pushed further and further by the trying moments of his life. “There’s only so much more that he can take.” As the stressors pile up, the frustrations grow, and “something crawls from the slime.” The metaphorical monster continues to rise and grow in fury (you can even hear it roar at 2:42), until it approaches “…the door/ Of a cottage on the shore.” At the same moment, the father drives towards his house, the family abode now in sight with “the pain upstairs that makes his eyeballs ache.” The animal rage that both beings have is about to be unleashed as the song ends, in the same fashion for both. Now, of course, this could all be one huge coincidence, but I’ve always found the second explanation more fulfilling (AZLyrics).

See what I mean when I said, “thought evoking”? Even now, I’m not entirely sure of my interpretation. I still ponder alternative explanations, still consider the mystery the song references. I suppose that’s what I love about music, and writing, and art in general. Different works have varied meaning for diverse populations. It’s a reflection of our differing mindsets how we read a novel and debate the underlying message, and the writing itself serves to preserve the mindset and unique voice of the writer. Sting and The Police had a unique voice, forever immortalized in their wide breadth of work. Someday, perhaps my voice will join the thousands of others, encased in texts upon a bookshelf somewhere, waiting. Waiting to be heard.


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