Speak to Me, Volume 7 is here!

For Speak to Me, Volume 7, I chose a well-known song — “Message in a Bottle” by Sting.   Sting, you are not alone in being alone.  🙂

I have always loved this song for the same reason that I love Paul Simon’s “Slip Slidin’ Away”:  the sad subtext of the song is hidden beneath a shiny, upbeat pop surface.   This song teaches us that you don’t always have to match the mood of the music to the meaning of the words.  Setting up a contrast can make for a powerful transmission of ideas and emotion.

Structurally I love this song for its simplicity.  Verse/Chorus, Verse/Chorus, Verse/Chorus.  I know this is third-hand hearsay, but my friend Chuck Pickeral told me that he heard Sting speak about writing this song.  He said Sting was a stickler for form, and he tried really hard to make a bridge to fit into this song.  But as everything he was feeling forced, he realized that he had already said what he needed to say.  This is a very important lesson!!  There is no need to force something into a song just because form dictates it.  Brevity is king in the three and a half minute pop song.

Speaking of three and a half minutes, I’m sure you noticed that my version of this song is really damn long.  I hope you don’t mind going with me on a slightly longer journey!  I was really tuning in to the loneliness and isolation here and remembering the times I have felt like that in my life.  It’s quite a hypnotic and meditative when slowed down like this.

Finally, I love what Sting has done with chords transitioning from verse to chorus.  Many times in pop songs we will see the verse anchored in a minor  key, then the switch to the relative major at the chorus.  Sting treats us to some different ear candy  by beginning on the 3 minor:  E minor, C, D, A minor  is the pattern of the verse.  We think we are in the key of E minor.  But then when the chorus comes in on C major, it opens everything up and  illustrates the hope he is daring to feel.  Yummy.