Tuesday, July 01, 2003

Bring on the Night

Over the past couple of days I've watched (in pieces) one of my favorite movies, "Bring on the Night," directed by Michael Apted. It follows the construction of the band and first album of Sting when he first went solo in the late 80s. It's a great band, made up of mostly jazz musicians, all of them non-white:Branford Marsalis, Kenny Kirkland (who has since passed on) on keyboards, Omar Hakim on drums, the definitive backup singers of Dolette MacDonald and Janet Pendaris.

It's a skillingfully done movie, made especially enjoyable by the locations (all in and around Paris), the musicianship and personalities of the band members, and how articulate they are, which of course also extends to Sting, the star of the show. (There's also the post-Don't Look Back required scenes of the semi-slimy manager, in this case castigating the designers for the bland clothes the band is wearing, while he is wearing exactly the same colors and style.)

It also means a lot that this album constitute Sting's best in merging political/historical content with great songwriting. So two scenes near the end of the movie, the only ones in which Sting is near tears, occur one after the other. The second is the on-camera birth of his son, with him in the delivery room with his wife, Judie Styler (very brave to appear pregnant in the whole film; what she looks like normally can be seen in one of Sting's best song videos, and perhaps one of the best anyone made in the early, most creative days of such videos, for "We'll Be Together" from his next album, "Nothing Like the Sun," which is pretty much an extension of this one, "Song of the Blue Turtles.") It's done with great potency to Sting's song on this album and in this show, "Russians." It is so simple that at times it is simplistic, but at times it is the poetic essence of the reality. "We share the same biology/regardless of ideology..."

(There's probably not a more complex yet powerful political song than "We Work the Black Seam," also on this album and in this film.)

The first is his sit-down interview answer to the question, was there a moment when you knew your dreams were going to come true? Yes, it was when he was waking up after a gig (with the Police presumably) in a hotel room in northern England and he heard the man washing the windows singing his song, "Roxanne." (This moment is referenced in his video for "Every Breath You Take.") He said he nearly wept, and nearly did as he said it. To have someone sing a song you wrote is, as he says quite precisely, "a great privilege."

It is a dream that I share. It sort of happened to me at least once, though I still dream of hearing children I don't know sing a song I made up. I guess the meaning of it is hard to explain to someone who doesn't share it so intensely. But I agree, it is akin to something holy and can't be really sought after. It is a great privilege.

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