Monday, August 6, 2007


I like Sting. Yes, I know. Shut up.

I can't help it. I was utterly musically illiterate until late high school or later -- and ya know what, I'm not sure that simultaneously discovering weed and the Doors in junior year really counts as a broadening of my musical horizons. My musical education had until then rested almost wholly in my father's hands.

This isn't as awful as it sounds. There were two reasons for it: one, I grew up in Europe, which -- don't get me wrong, I lurves me some E.U. -- has the musical taste of your really weird second cousin whose jeans were way too tight before tight jeans came back, all trance and dance and electronica all the time, and some really odd soft rock in the top-40 playlist of the average radio station. So what did my friends all listen to? Michael Jackson, Aerosmith, and Guns N Roses, well into the mid-90s (which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but we had no idea we were being retro), Texas, PowwoW (English- and French-singing vaguely Native American-inspired a cappella backed with drums, and no, I'm not kidding), and what I think of as club music -- heavy beat, electronics, repeating samples, no real melody.

The second reason was that Dad had, and has, reasonably good taste in music. His true melodic loves mostly reside in the 1960s, it's true -- but not all of them, and that's important. He keeps up with music, year by year, and buys what he likes. He introduced my sister and me not only to Elvis, the Beach Boys, the Beatles, and the Rolling Stones, but also to Ravi Shankar, Ella Fitzgerald and Sarah Vaughan, Madonna (back in the day!), Sinead O'Connor, Norah Jones, Boys II Men, the Fugees and Lauryn Hill, Pink Floyd's The Wall (in LP format, natch), the Pet Shop Boys, Sade, Traci Chapman ... and, yes, Sting.

The album that accompanied my late single-digit years in Paris and remained on the shelf above the stereo -- the Special Shelf full of only the Chosen Ones, the music that the family as a whole had, by dint of seemingly random rearranging and playing, deemed deserving of frequent rotation -- was 1987's "...Nothing Like the Sun." I know most of the songs on that album by heart, probably; if you asked me what was on it, however, I could only tell you a few of them.

The Lazarus Heart -- if only because I had to ask who Lazarus was, and was still confused after I'd been told. I was not brought up in a Christian household by any means.

Be Still My Beating Heart -- more <3s. style="font-style: italic;">I don't drink coffee, I take tea, my dear
I like my toast done on one side
And you can hear it in my accent when I talk:
I'm an Englishman in New York
If "manners maketh man," as someone said
Then he's the hero of the day
It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile
Be yourself no matter what they say
Takes more than combat gear to make a man
Takes more than a license for a gun
Confront your enemies, avoid them when you can
A gentleman will walk but never run.

"It takes a man to suffer ignorance and smile" ... what a lovely, grown-up sort of sentiment. I have been accused of letting people walk over me, or of putting politesse and tact before confrontation and conflict resolution. I don't know about the first; it's certainly possible that it's true. I will cop to the second accusation proudly. Sometimes, dammit, a smile and the ability to walk away and cool off elsewhere can save a friendship, an argument, or your dignity. I'm not saying no-one should ever confront an attacker, refute a stupid argument, or stand up for themselves for fear of hurting someone else's feelings, of course. That would be twerpish.

But! I do admire the inherent bravery it sometimes takes to walk away; to bite one's tongue, though it would be incredibly easy to destroy someone else's ego for your own bitter satisfaction; to smile at someone who is trying to make you angry; to be, in other words, a gentleman or a lady, in a world increasingly devoid of either.


oacat said...

Uhm. What is there not to love?

oacat said...

Also, crap, I fail at comments